A Cat's Chance in Hell
Hellcat Series Book 1
by Sharon Hannaford Genre: Urban Fantasy
If the Demon Master gets his way the City is about to become Hell on Earth.
Gabi has some extraordinary talents. Some might call them supernatural, but for her they’re just part of everyday life. What she knows about the supernatural would give most humans nightmares forever. Ridding the streets of bad-ass creatures of the night is Gabi’s other job. Taking up the mantle of her father’s legacy, she is a Hunter for the Societas Malus Venatori. The first female ever bestowed the title. Her day job is a little less dangerous. Most of the time.
Being ambushed and kidnapped by the sinfully sexy Master Vampire of the City should have been just another night on the job, except for the fact that Julius has other plans for her. When he reveals that his nemesis wants control of the City and has plans to fill it with Demons from the Etherworld, creating an army of Ghouls and turning humans into nothing more than cattle to feed his Clan, Gabi must choose her path. She must decide whether to join with Julius in a stand against the Demon Master or flee the City with her friends and family, leaving the Vampires to wage their own war and the rest of the residents to their fate.
But it’s not in Gabi’s nature to back down from a fight, no matter how impossible the odds. As the Malus Venatori prepare for war, Gabi finds herself pulled deeper into Julius’s world and she makes some disturbing discoveries about her unusual supernatural abilities. Her existence might just be the answer to a mystery as old as the Vampire race. Even more unsettling than that is her undeniable attraction to Julius and the taste of his blood. But before she can come to terms with her conflicting desires they must all survive the Demon onslaught and find a way to safeguard the truth of her heritage.
While the supernatural bad guys know her as Angeli Morte, her friends call her Hellcat!
If you like your heroine smart, sassy and absolutely kick-ass and your Vampire hero sexy as sin and twice as dangerous you’re going to love the Hellcat Series.
“They’re still human,” Gabi whispered, not sure if she was speaking to herself or Julius.
“They could still be infected,” Julius warned. “Maybe they haven’t had time to become fully Ghoul yet. How long does the transformation take?”
“I don’t know.” Gabi replied.
“How long have you been here?” Julius demanded of them.
They all just looked at him in utter terror, not one of them could get a word out, and the one who had been moaning began to cry softly.
“Bugger, they’re scared shitless,” Gabi cursed roundly. “We’ll leave them here for now. Byron will know what to do with them. Let’s carry on and see what other horrors this crypt holds.” They backed out of the cave-like room and Julius shot the bolt back in place.
As they headed towards the next doorway, the acrid stink of burnt flesh, hair and clothing came wafting down from the entranceway. Apparently, the flame-throwers had arrived.
They checked three more open rooms and found all of them in much the same state as the first, give or take a body or three. Gabi had begun holding her breath whenever they entered one — the stench was stomach churning, she was sure she wouldn’t feel like eating for a week.
The next door they came to was closed. The sounds from the other side seemed familiar, almost identical to what they had heard from the other occupied room. If anything, the sniffling sounded more like crying. They didn’t let down their guard and entered the same way as before, quickly and ready for anything.
On the pallets this time was a woman holding a small body in her lap. She was facing away from the door, her shoulders hunched protectively as she sniffled over the limp bundle in her arms. Gabi froze in shock. A mother and child, in these conditions? Her stomach rolled nauseously but her anger burned white hot. She unfroze and moved closer to the pair, wanting to see if there was any hope of saving the child, though she could only hear one heartbeat besides her own.
As she bent towards the woman, she heard Julius say, “No Gabi, I don’t…” and in that instant the woman struck. Hurling the body of the child off her, she spun and plunged a splintered shard of wood straight into Gabi’s side.
“No, you can’t have her!” the woman shrieked. “Child of Satan. She’s mine. You can’t have her.” The woman was raving now, screaming as she gathered up the pitifully small body and backed into a corner like a brutalised animal.
“Gabrielle,” Julius shouted in alarm. He reached her before reality did and caught her as she swayed towards the dirt floor, her hand clutching at the crudely made stake protruding from just under her right ribs.
“Fuck,” she said slowly as she felt hot, sticky blood seep onto her hand.
All Hell Breaks Loose
Hellcat Series Book 2
In the City, the Werewolves are restless.
Gabi is striving to get back to life as usual. Dealing with the aftermath of being kidnapped and tortured by Dantè, wrapping her head around being a Dhampir, and trying to figure out Julius’s unexpected attitude as he withdraws from her and becomes cool and distant. As if that isn’t enough to cope with, she receives the disturbing news that someone she cares about has been dragged unwillingly into her world after a brutal and calculated Werewolf attack.
As rogue Werewolves run rampant through the City, it becomes clear there will be no gentle reintroduction to Gabi's duties as Hunter for the Societas Malus Venatori. Once again the Vampires join forces with the SMV to contain the threat, but the odds seem stacked against them and the casualties keep mounting. Tensions run high as the perpetrators manage to stay one step ahead of the Hunters and the senseless violence continues. No one suspects betrayal from within, until Gabi’s pets unmask a traitor. But the traitor isn’t the real threat and the war has only just begun.
This time their nemesis isn’t playing by any rules and no one is safe in this deadly, new game. Not even the Master Vampire of the City. As the undeniable chemistry between Gabi and Julius reignites, they realise the danger isn’t only to the human population of the City, but threatens to overwhelm them all. What they finally uncover brings Gabi into very real conflict with the SMV Council and leaves her questioning her life-long allegiances.
Not all monsters come in obvious monster packages and sometimes what you’re fighting to protect is what you should be fighting against.
Not everyone will walk away from this fight intact.
Strap in, hang on and grab a breath while you can. All hell is about to break loose!
"The Hellcat series is one wild ride ... one of the best new series to hit the dark urban fantasy world, ever! Two words: more, please." Diane Nelson (Sand in my Shoes Reviews)
“My name is Gabrielle Bradford,” she said in a deceptively friendly tone. She didn’t hold back her smile as the four new Werewolves sucked in a collective hiss of breath.
The Alpha went absolutely still, his expression frozen. Apparently they’d heard of her.
“Angeli Morte,” one of them whispered.
“You must be consorting with a very bad element to know that nickname,” she said. “Now tell me what you really want with Derek.”
She groaned inwardly as Derek chose that moment to come up behind her to see what was going on. He hissed in a breath.
“It’s them,” he shouted hoarsely. “From the alley, the ones who attacked me.”
Gabi’s suspicions were officially confirmed. As soon as she knew they were Werewolves, she figured they’d come to claim their Pack mate. She didn’t turn to check on Derek, she had to trust that he’d stay out of her way. Nex was in her hand before the Alpha had done more than blink. When his eyes flicked back to her after Derek’s brief distraction, Nex was levelled at his chest. The black suits, who’d begun to spread out in an offensive fan, froze as one. Mr Alpha’s face contorted in rage, but he didn’t twitch a muscle.
“This is none of your business, Ms Bradford,” he ground out between clenched teeth. “I have come to claim one of mine. It would be better for all concerned if you stood aside and let Mr Collins come with me.”
Gabi’s eyes narrowed even as an unpleasant smile lifted the corners of her mouth. “Au contraire, my dear Alpha,” she drawled. “I think if you know anything about me, you’ll know that this is very much my business.”
She heard Derek fall to his knees behind her and knew he was fighting another transformation. She wasn’t sure he had the strength for a third shift, but if he did, she couldn’t be sure his wolf wouldn’t mistake her for the enemy. She needed to get the situation under control fast.
“I know a few people who would be very interested to meet you and your Pack.” Nex’s blade touched his suit jacket directly over his heart. “You do know the penalty for intentionally spreading the lycanthropy virus, don’t you?” she asked in an ice-filled tone.
The Alpha’s eyes narrowed, as his Pack stirred nervously.
“Leave me a business card, and I’ll have my superiors contact you to discuss your recent transgressions. They may spare some of your Pack members if you decide to co-operate.” She let the cold certainty of his death fill her eyes.
She watched the appraisal running through his mind. Wondering if she truly was as good as the stories said she was. Her intuition kicked in, and she knew a second before he did that he was going to call, what he assumed was, her bluff. Not for the first time, she cursed the fact that she couldn’t simply kill a rogue without a kill order from the SMV. Not without an enquiry and paperwork and the chance of suspension, anyway. As the thought hit his consciousness, Gabi dropped Nex’s tip from his heart and powered a knee strike into his chest, sending him careening backwards into his compatriots. The move took him by surprise and annoyed the shit out of him.
He regained his balance instantly and yelled, “Get her,” at his lackeys. He stepped back to watch the show, allowing his minions to do the dirty work. She’d already picked out the weak links in the pack. They were big and muscular, but they were new Lycanthropes, and they didn’t move like fighters. They’d probably never even been in a decent street brawl. She was praying this would tip the balance in her favour; otherwise she was up the proverbial creek.
A Cold Day in Hell
Hellcat Series Book 3
The City may be calm, but is the Hunter about to become the hunted?
For the first time in months the City is peaceful, so peaceful that Gabi’s suspension from the Societas Malus Venatori doesn’t feel like a punishment. Her relationship with Julius is stronger than ever and Kyle has finally found his soul mate, even if he seems to need some convincing. Gabi thinks boredom is her most serious problem. She couldn’t be more wrong.
The visitor Julius has been both expecting and dreading arrives, bringing with him dire news. An old enemy, out to destroy them, has revealed to the Masters of the Vampire race that Gabi is a Dhampir. The visitor’s presence also answers the question that’s been simmering in Gabi’s head for years; the truth of her origins. This truth brings with it a deeper understanding of the implications of her very existence, and she doesn’t like what she discovers. But it’s too late to change what’s been done and Julius must now answer to the Princeps’ Court.
As Gabi makes plans to leave the City, drawing danger away from friends and family, a dark prophesy by the Magi Oracles forces her to change course. She will not be leaving the City alone, and she will not be running from the threat. She, Julius and a handful of others will be heading straight into the mouth of the beast. They must present themselves at Court before the Princeps travel to the City and inadvertently uncover one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Magi world.
While the Princeps wear a face of impartiality and civility, what boils beneath the surface is a storm of selfishness, greed, lust and perversion. Danger lurks in every corner and it soon becomes clear that someone is determined to ensure that Gabi will never get the chance of a fair hearing.
Old friends and old enemies do what they have always done best, while new friends and new enemies emerge at every turn. Only one thing is sure; it’ll be a cold day in Hell before Hellcat goes down without a fight.
Put the coffee on and warm up your page-turning finger, it’s going to be a long night.
This is a full length novel.
Please note this novel is written in UK English and contains some adult content.
Julius heard her scream, heard the rage in the single word as he reached the edge of the alley. Just in time to watch Gabi head-butt the Rogue Vampire hard enough to force bits of the bridge of his nose up into his brain. The Vampire staggered back, dazed. Not even the oldest Vampire could heal that kind of injury instantly. Julius's first instinct was to seize the Vamp with the power of his mind and squash him like a bug. Every nerve in his body wanted to squeeze the Rogue's mind until it popped, but some other, deeper instinct froze him where he stood.
Gabi was in full-blown Red Rage. This was the second time he'd seen it. The last time had been her first descent into the madness. It seemed to have been triggered by her proximity to him and needing the blood her body had been craving for years. She'd snapped for a minor annoyance and utterly destroyed his office before he managed to calm her. Now, she was using the rage as a weapon. It rode her, but she had control of the reins.
Somehow he sensed that this was what she needed. Not the therapy sessions they'd been using to desensitize her to the feeling of being trapped. She was Hellcat. She took care of herself and everyone else around her. She didn't need to get used to the idea of being trapped; she needed to annihilate the enemy trapping her. This was the therapy she truly needed.
It took more control than he thought he possessed to watch her fight the Rogue. Though it honestly wasn't much of a fight after that. She systematically kicked and beat the Vampire to a bloody pulp. When he lay in a crumpled heap, face down on the tarmac, no longer moving, she rolled him over with the tip of one boot to face her. Then she calmly picked up Nex, knelt over his body, and stabbed the blade directly into his heart. Then she pulled the blade out and stabbed him again, and again, and again.
To Hell and Back Hellcat Series Book 4
SOME SECRETS ARE WORTH DYING TO PROTECT
When Werewolves start turning up dead, drained of blood, the City’s Alphas turn accusing eyes on the Vampires. It doesn’t take much to get the newly-formed Werewolf Alliance riled up. But once Vampires start dying the same way it becomes clear they have a mutual enemy.
An unexpected visitor brings news that vulnerable supernaturals from neighbouring towns are also being kidnapped and murdered, and that the City seems to be the focus of the violence. With no idea of the motives behind the attacks, Gabi and the rest of the City’s defenders immediately commit to eliminating whoever, or whatever, is behind the bizarre and gruesome acts.
Adding to the chaos, demons suddenly attack in unprecedented numbers, stretching the City’s supernatural resources thin. The reappearance of an old foe from the Etherworld sparks fears that Mariska is back and still seeking revenge. And that once again, she’s made powerful, dark alliances. When all fingers point to something hellbent on uncovering whatever secrets the City hides, eyes finally turn to the Magi.
A war will be waged for the greatest supernatural prize of them all, and the outcome is impossible to predict. Not even the presence of a powerful Princep and the shocking revelation of Julius’s true potential can assure victory for the pure of heart.
This time Gabi is determined to get Mariska in her crosshairs, and she’s ready and willing to even the score. But there is no guarantee that everyone will survive this trip to Hell and back!
“Make your pretty little cohort hand back my things, and nobody gets hurt,” Gabi growled, only barely holding onto her temper now. Mr Tall-muscled-and-stupid was either too witless or too unobservant to take the hint. He took another step closer, actually lifting his right hand as though ready to backhand her.
“What you going to do?” Gabi challenged him snarkily. “Assault me in front of dozens of witnesses. Gods, you’re even more moronic than I originally thought.” It seemed there was only going to be one way to conclude this little set-to, but she wasn’t walking away from her wallet and phone.
The man raised his eyebrows incredulously, shocked that she hadn’t backed down from his aggression. Then, emboldened by the gathering crowd’s lack of action against him, his eyes narrowed deviously.
“Twenty bucks on the lady,” a rough, gravelly, masculine voice called lazily from her left.
Gabi allowed her attention to dart in that direction for a fraction of a second, assessing the newcomer. He’d shouldered his way through the crowd to stand a foot closer than the rest of the humans, with his arms loosely crossed. He was a tall, older man, maybe in his fifties. Grey flecked the dark brown hair at his temples and punctuated the five-day-old stubble on his chin. Grizzled was the word that popped into Gabi’s mind, the sort of man you expected to see playing the lead in a fifties Western. While there was nothing overtly dangerous about the man, even his casual dress code of jeans and a button-down, checked shirt didn’t detract from the air of unconscious swagger that marked the man a fighter to Gabi’s experienced eye. Mr Stupid seemed confused. Again.
“I’m not sure there are any ladies here,” Gabi quipped, buying time to work out if the older man was in on the con. He was human, so no real threat to Gabi, but if he was on their side, things weren’t looking good for the recovery of her personal items.
A slow, wry grin broke through the stubble on the man’s face, and he inclined his head ever so slightly. “I use the term loosely,” he conceded.
“What the fuck do you want, old man?” Stupid snarled.
Gabi noticed that the girl was trying to back away from the fray. She could run, but she couldn’t hide, not from Gabi. The chase might be fun though.
“Hey, it’s your funeral. I just thought it was fair to warn you, you know, man to man?” the newcomer told him. “You see, this lady,” his lips twitched in amusement, “works out at a dojo I used to do maintenance work for. She’s pretty notorious there; not too many women achieve black belts in three different martial arts, and she has a reputation for a pretty short fuse. I think you’ve caught her on a good day if you’re still standing here arguing with her.”
Gabi was hard-pressed to keep back the snort of laughter that bubbled up from her chest. Did this man have any idea of how close to the truth he’d just hit? Or did he? Still keeping half her attention on Stupid, she flicked her gaze back to the older man, studying him more deeply, trying to discern if she’d ever come across him before. Aside from his fighter’s bearing, nothing about him seemed familiar to her.
With a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders, he turned dismissively from Stupid. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Then he lifted his leather-booted foot onto the lip of a sturdy, cement flower box and leaned one elbow against his upraised knee as though preparing to watch the showdown.
Something must have finally penetrated Stupid’s thick skull because he looked around at the gathering crowd, took a couple of steps back from her, and twitched his head at the girl. She gave a sullen snarl and threw the wallet and phone at Gabi before the two of them took off at a dead run, straight towards the nearby train station.
Come Hell or High Water
Hellcat Series Book 5
IS IT WRONG TO FEAR SHADOWS WHEN THOSE SHADOWS HAVE THE POWER TO DESTROY YOU?
The City’s supernatural community is still in mourning, but there’s no time to spend licking their wounds. The face of the City has changed forever and now her citizens must keep up or risk succumbing to the darkness.
As the Magi withdraw to protect themselves and their vulnerable power source, it falls to the Werewolves to step into the void left by a crippled SMV. The Vampires are more than willing to help, but things are moving in the shadows; bad things that threaten to destroy everything Julius has worked for. Princep scheming seems suspicious, but in truth the greater danger lurks much closer to home.
When one of Gabi’s Werewolf friends is kidnapped by tech-savvy vigilantes it seems like an open and shut case of humans fearing what they do not understand. But as Julius travels from the City to answer the Princeps’ summons, leaving Gabi in the relative safety of the Clan, it soon becomes clear that they’ve misjudged the real enemy.
Left confused and floundering, it’s the Princep Benedict who finally provides the information they desperately seek. But his answers do not come without a price.
Defending their beloved City may seem overwhelming, but, come Hell or high water, Hellcat and Co will do whatever it takes.
“Wait, wait, wait,” Sally cried out, holding placating hands up towards Julius as he turned warning eyes on her. “I won’t say anyfing, I swear it.” She tugged a cotton handkerchief from the pocket of her apron to dab at her forehead, her heart was racing, but she was taking deep calming breaths. “Oh, sweet muver of God, I’m getting too old for excitement like this.”
“Why don’t you have a seat, Sally,” Julius said, pulling a chair away from the table. The woman’s blood pressure had spiked alarmingly. “You, eat.” He pointed to the seat on the opposite side of the table with a commanding glance at Kimberley. He remained standing; the woman was human, and an older one, but he wasn’t taking any chances.
Sally was staring with open-mouthed amazement at Kimberley, who was already buttering a warm muffin. “’Ow on God’s green earf did you find one to look exactly like ’er?” And then her open mouth curved into a wry smile, and she shook her head in wonder. “A Doppelganger,” she breathed. “Neva in all my years did I fink to see one. And one so gifted. You got some interesting cards up yor sleeve, Master Julius, that you hav’.” The woman’s reactions were consistent with the signals her body was giving off; unless she was a world-class actress, she was on the level. She was genuinely pleased, relieved and amazed. “I was so worried about that fekking hair. You know, I swear I cleaned that place from top to bottom, and everyone that ’elped was there because they themselves would’ve done the deed if they knew they ’ad even the tiniest chance of pullin’ it off.” She turned her gaze up to Julius. “That lady of yors, she’s a true gem, she is. The kind that restores my faith in this world. I ’ope you neva forget ’ow special she is.”
“Don’t worry,” Julius assured her, “she reminds me on a regular basis.”
Sally threw her head back and let out a raucous laugh.
“Now tell me how you knew this wasn’t Gabi.”
Sally sobered. “I’m good at noticing details, you know.” She looked over at Kimberley. “Your Doppelganger has the looks down exactly right, but I’m guessing she didn’t spend very much time wiv yor lady. It was mostly a collection of small fings, you see—the cat not bein’ ’ere; how easily you ’ad agreed to the testing of the hair, even though Xavier is sure it’s genuine—but two fings really gave it away. First was the way you looked at ’er when she came out the room. A man in luv wiv a lady has a certain look in ’is eye when he sees ’er; eiva you weren’t in luv with Lady ’Ellcat, or that wasn’t Lady ’Ellcat. And second, you can’t fake sass, a girl eiva ’as it or she doesn’t. This one ’as a good go, but she ain’t got nuffin’ on yor lady.”
Sally was right, Julius mused, she did have an excellent eye for details, luckily it was the kind of details most overlooked, but they’d have to tread more carefully over the next couple of days.
“You can drop the mask, Kimberley,” he told the younger woman. “You’ll be needing your strength later.”
The Shifter looked at him, checking he was sure, and then she put her coffee cup down and rolled her head across her shoulders, as though she was relieving a stiff neck, and when she looked at them again, she wore her own face. It took a few more seconds for her hair to return to its usual shade of light brown.
“Well, I’ll be…” Sally stared in absolute astonishment. And then Derek chose to join them, perhaps roused by the smell of breakfast. He was wearing a pair of boxer shorts and nothing else. “Well, I’ll be…” Sally repeated, this time taking in the Werewolf’s muscled body from head to toe.
There'll Be Hell to Pay
Hellcat Series Book 6
THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL
Just a few months ago Gabi thought her life was damn near perfect. She could never have imagined that meeting one man would spark a chain of events that would change everything. The only resemblance to her previous life is her relentless hunt for supernatural criminals. Right now, her world has narrowed to two points of focus; co-leading the newly formed Special Investigations Department alongside Julius, her Master Vampire Consort, and searching for the traitorous Vampire Caspian and his pregnant Dark Magus cohort, Mariska. Catching up with friends and making peace with her mother are also on her agenda for the week, but life may just have other plans.
Even the most rookie supernatural investigator would figure out that things aren’t going well for the Magi of the City, but the High Council is maintaining its silence and remaining distant from the other races. The safety and security of the City’s population is falling ever more heavily on the shoulders of the fledgling Werewolf Alliance, leaving Kyle, Trish and the other Pack Alphas to handle a rising influx of demons committed to infiltrating the City and wreaking havoc.
There are many scenarios that keep Gabi from her sleep, and when one of those concerns becomes a sickening reality, it rocks her to the core. Taking one of those most dear to her is a dangerous game, one that few would play, knowing what she and Julius are capable of. The list of suspects is short and the guilty party soon shows their hand, but is this all just a ruse and what could they hope to accomplish by riling up such powerful enemies?
There is no rest for the team as, with one emergency over, they are handed a scrap of information that will ultimately lead them straight to Caspian and Mariska. But are they truly ready for the final standoff?
Who will make the ultimate sacrifice and how will the rest deal with the repercussions of an ancient prophesy that culminates in the birth of Mariska’s twin children?
This is the nail-biting conclusion to the Hellcat Series.
Buckle up boys and girls - there’s turbulence ahead.
The inside of the large cave was unexpected, to say the least. Gabi couldn’t stop her eyebrows shooting skyward as she followed Julius and the Decurian Number One inside. The entrance was more than large enough to accommodate a horse or pack mule. The floor was smooth and flat, the ground so hard-packed that it felt like concrete beneath her hiking boots. Nearly a dozen bronze wall sconces hugged the rock walls surrounding them, each supporting a lit candle, illuminating most of the cave and creating a warm, comforting glow. Another fire crackled near the back of the cave, the smoke drawn upward by an unseen chimney. A cave-in marred the rear of the otherwise smoothly excavated cavern, leaving large rocks and boulders strewn for several metres, but the rest of the cave was clean and clear of vermin, cobwebs, animal droppings and anything else you’d expect to find in a long disused cave in the middle of undisturbed jungle. To add to the surreal scene, three wingback chairs, opulently upholstered in red and gold, sat in the centre of the room, facing each other, a large hand-woven rug spread out beneath them, and in their midst was a low table with crystal glasses and several carafes of what Gabi could only assume was wine.
“Please come, sit and relax.” Eka strode to the chairs. “I hear that you both indulge in some fruit of the vine. Can I pour for you?”
Julius walked forward as Gabi threw a quick glance behind them to check that Fergus was in position. He gave her a small nod from just outside and flicked his wrist so that the firelight from the cave danced off the blade of his broadsword. They were protected from the outside; now they just needed protection against whatever the Decurian threw at them inside. Gabi was curiously dismayed that the alarm bell in the back of her mind was utterly quiet. She prayed it wasn’t on the fritz.
“My dearest Consort,” Eka called to her, “you have nothing to fear. There is no ill will here. I would not expose my dearest Flora to violence unless I have absolutely no other choice.”
Gabi turned away from the door and mentally steadied herself before going to join the two men.
“I have kept her terribly protected from the brutal reality of my life, and I will keep it that way for as long as I possibly can. Being a parent is such a joy and such a burden at the same time, but what can we do?” He turned a dazzling smile on Gabi, the edge of madness doused. Now he was pure, unadulterated charm. “What can I pour you? I have a wonderful Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage Cuvee Cathelin.” He rattled off the name of the wine in a near perfect French accent and, though Gabi was no sommelier, even she recognised it. “It’s a wonderful wine from the Syrah grape,” he continued, unaffected by Julius’s twitch and Gabi’s audible swallow. “This is my last bottle. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion.”
Gabi wondered when she’d fallen down the rabbit hole again. This particular wine probably made the list for the top twenty most expensive bottles of wine in the world, and she was being offered it in a cave on a remote mountaintop in central Mauritania by the leader of the group who opposed just about everything she and Julius stood for.
“Come, come,” he continued, holding out one of the flawlessly cut crystal decanters. “If it makes you feel better, I will take the first sip or I can call in one of my people, but I swear to you there is nothing but exceptionally good wine in here.”
A Hellcat World Novel
The rest period is over and the ultimate endgame round has just begun.
The City has seen a peaceful lull for the past three years. The Werewolf Alliance has settled into their role as peacekeepers, stamping out threats the moment they rear their heads. The Magi have recovered from their losses both in numbers and strength and the Veil is more solid than ever. The Vampires never rest; the desire to create Dhampirs grows despite the law and the deadly consequences, but even their weapons are gathering dust.
And yet all of them know this peace is an illusion; a small space in time to rest and regroup. Because the Decuria still exist in the shadows and the Prophesy calls to all sides. The battle of the millennium is looming and only one side can win.
A new player has joined the game as old foes prepare to once more roll the dice. The board pieces are set, the gameplan is decided and the protectors of the City are the only ones who don’t know the rules.
Kyle and Trish have the family they never dared to wish for. Not only two daughters but an ever-growing, ever-strengthening Werewolf Pack. The love and security of family is everything they desired, but the weight of responsibility is burdensome and they can never let down their guard. Just when they thought everything was black and white, they are faced with a new choice; one that is all shades of grey, one that could change the Werewolf world forever.
Still reeling from the shock of the decision they must make, the fragile peace is inevitably broken, leaving the Pack blind-sided and chasing their tails. It will take everything they have to keep their family and friends safe. They will have to find strength in their weaknesses and vulnerability in their strengths if they are to survive this assault. Can they ever be prepared for the consequences of that which has been prophesied?
Fasten that safety belt and grab a handhold, this will not be a quiet Sunday afternoon drive.
Riley swallowed. “You’ll…you’ll bring me back, right? I’m not going to get stuck as a…as a…” Her voice broke and her knuckles turned white.
“Yes, I swear, if you can’t do it yourself, we will help you Change back,” Gabi promised. “Just trust us when the time comes.”
“It’s alright.” Kyle couldn’t help but try to reassure her. “You’ll be fine.”
Riley nodded jerkily and closed her eyes, a person awaiting execution. Gabi looked over at him, and he nodded.
He imagined he could feel the energy in the air, an invisible pull, a heaviness. His wolf emerged from the recesses of his mind, curious and a little uneasy. He relaxed as soon as he understood what was happening but stayed close. Riley might not be one of his, but his Alpha strength could still be useful if this experiment turned to crap.
Riley leaned forward, breathing heavily through clenched teeth. Sweat dotted her forehead as her head tilted up, her eyes unseeing. Slowly she collapsed onto all fours, her hands flat on the bare concrete floor, her spine arching unnaturally. Then her head dropped forward, her hair falling over her face, and a harsh growl tore from her throat.
Next to him, Gabi’s breathing grew laboured. He spared her a glance. Her jaw was set, her eyes fixed on Riley, her hands raised in front of herself. He’d seen her force the Change many times, but mostly it was in the heat of battle or in self-defence; in those times she’d had them writhing on the ground in seconds, their bodies convulsing into wolf form in a matter of moments, leaving them in exhausted agony. She’d never done it to him, but he could imagine that it was something akin to being turned inside out. This time she was trying to do it gently, coaxing the wolf into being in a similar way to the natural Change. Better for Riley, far harder for Gabi.
Riley curled into a foetal position, panting as small whimpers escaped. Her arms and legs were already lengthening, contorting, her shoulders hunching, fingernails turning to claws.
It seemed to take an interminable amount of time, even longer than the first time Trish Changed, but at last a fully formed wolf lay on the ground in front of them, growling very quietly. She was larger than any of the other females Kyle had seen, as big as many of the males, her colouring a remarkable mix of cinnamon, cream and fawn. She was quite breathtaking.
“Wow,” Gabi said quietly, once again channelling his own sentiments.
The wolf opened citrine eyes and stared at them, without moving. Kyle held his breath, allowing his wolf to move even closer, near enough to the surface of his consciousness that he knew his eyes would be changing colour. His world narrowed down to the animal on the ground before him, alert to the faintest movement, the slightest twitch. If she chose to attack, he could Change quickly enough to meet her, but he didn’t want Gabi in the blast zone if it came to a fight. Gabi was tough, but she wasn’t invincible. Or immortal.
The wolf lay quiet, her eyes roving the room as though seeing it for the first time. Gabi moved a step closer to Kyle, and he understood immediately that she needed time to regroup and recover before she conversed with Riley’s wolf. This Change had taken more out of her than she expected, but she wouldn’t show weakness in front of the wolf.
Kyle stepped forward and pulled the chair away from Riley, as though making room for the wolf, but he thrust it closer to Gabi. She turned it and used the back as support, keeping her movements casual and calm.
“You’re safe. No one will hurt you,” Kyle told the wolf as he put himself between her and Gabi.
The wolf finally moved, lifting her head to look him in the eyes. His wolf responded, surging forward, ready to demand her submission. But as their eyes met, he stopped in what Kyle could only describe as mid-stride, almost as though one of his paws was still in the air, such was the shock that rocked him.
Not of her personally, but of what she was.
They were the same. His wolf knew it instantly.
They were the same.
“Kyle. Wolf.” Gabi’s low, urgent voice brought him back to himself. “What’s going on?”
He released a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding, and looked back. She had one hand raised in the direction of the CCTV camera, warning them to stand down, but tension tightened her jaw.
“She’s…” He cleared his throat and tried again. “She wasn’t lying about being born a Werewolf. She’s definitely like me.”
Sharon has been calling herself a writer since she was eight years old. She wrote her first auto-biography at age ten. As a teenager, she was teased about being a witch, because she wore lots of black and walked around with her black, Oriental cat on a lead. She never disagreed too loudly, after all, that may have drawn attention to the herd of unicorns that lived in her back garden.
Born and raised in South Africa, she has called New Zealand home since 2008. Her life consists largely of looking after her husband, two kids, three cats, a dog, a pony and a horse, but her working day is spent writing, and her occasional hours off usually include books, horses or a glass of good red wine.
Though she has had many jobs over the years, her favourite is, without doubt, being paid to write about the characters who take up residence in her head. After an early foray into writing for children, Sharon discovered Urban Fantasy; the genre that felt as though it had been created with her in mind. She loves nothing more than to create strong-willed, female lead characters, who challenge those around them almost as much as they challenge themselves.
Sharon also loves animals of all shapes and sizes. She has owned all the usual suspects one would keep as a pet, and a few more exotic ones thrown in for good measure. She spent her teens working at a tourist farm and animal park, and as a result has handled everything from porcupines and warthogs, to ferrets and hedgehogs. She has been surrogate mom to many orphans including; kittens, lambs and an eagle owl. No matter how hard she tries, animals always seem to steal the limelight in her novels.