Preternatural Affairs

Witch Hunt, Silver Bullet, and Hotter Than Helltown

This urban fantasy boxed set contains the first three books of the Preternatural Affairs series: Witch Hunt, Silver Bullet, and Hotter Than Helltown.

My name's Cèsar Hawke. I’m a witch working for a division of the government you’ve never heard about.

The world’s not what everyone thinks it is—unless you think that our world’s a pawn in a game of chess between Heaven and Hell, and riddled with as much magic and wonder as it is with evil.

In that case, the world is exactly what you think.

My place of employment—the Office of Preternatural Affairs—takes a modern approach to an ages-old problem. It used to be that inquisitors would burn demons and the people in league with them. Now we get warrants, perform arrests, put the suspects on trial, and send guilty parties back to the Hell from whence they came with the travel forms filled out in triplicate.

This stuff I do with the OPA, it saves lives on most days.

Most days, I said.

ABOUT WITCH HUNT
There are scratches on Cèsar Hawke’s arms, a discharged Glock on his coffee table, and a dead woman in his bathtub. Yeah, maybe he brought the waitress home for some fun—he was too drunk to remember it—but he knows for a fact that he didn’t kill her. He’s an agent with the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He doesn’t hurt people. He saves them.

The cops disagree. Now Cèsar is running.

Isobel Stonecrow speaks with the dead. She brings closure to the bereaved and heals broken hearts. But when she talks to the wrong spirit, the OPA puts a bounty on her head.

Tracking down Isobel is the last case assigned to Cèsar before he bolts. If he finds her, he can prove that he didn’t kill that waitress. He can clear his name, get his job back, and bring justice to all those wronged families.

She’s just one witch. He’s bagged a dozen witches before.

How hard can one more be?

ABOUT SILVER BULLET
Former private investigator Cèsar Hawke has one rule: He doesn’t deal with dead bodies. That’s why he enlisted with the Magical Violations Department in the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He’s happy tracking down witches that commit petty crimes, but he leaves the homicides to other agents.

Except that he’s been assigned to a new team—a team that handles special investigations—and the job has suddenly changed. Now Cèsar has to deal with dead bodies. He also has to deal with necromancers, murderous cults, and demons that can stop a man’s heart with fear.

This isn’t the job he signed up for, but it’s the job he needs to do.

If he survives the first week.

ABOUT HOTTER THAN HELLTOWN
A killer is mutilating bodies in Los Angeles. Agent Cèsar Hawke is on the case, but the murderer is ahead of him—way ahead of him.

Wiping the memories of the dead so that the team’s necrocognitive can’t talk to them? Done. Preventing magical reconstruction of the crime scenes? Oh yeah. And the murders keep getting more brutal while Cèsar struggles to catch up.

The best way to heat up a cold case is to go to Helltown, where Los Angeles’s most powerful evil hides out, but even those demons are afraid of the murderer. Their fear adds one more question to the growing pile of unknowns:

What kind of bad guy is too hot for Helltown?

Silver Bullet

Former private investigator Cèsar Hawke has one rule: He doesn’t deal with dead bodies. That’s why he enlisted with the Magical Violations Department in the Office of Preternatural Affairs. He’s happy tracking down witches that commit petty crimes, but he leaves the homicides to other agents.

Except that he’s been assigned to a new team—a team that handles special investigations—and the job has suddenly changed. Now Cèsar has to deal with dead bodies. He also has to deal with necromancers, murderous cults, and demons that can stop a man’s heart with fear.

This isn’t the job he signed up for, but it’s the job he needs to do.

If he survives the first week.

Excerpt:

If you saw me sitting down in the old Soup Express building that Wednesday morning, you’d think that the spineless piece of shit stool pigeon that I was interviewing was human. You’d be right about the spineless piece of shit part. The human part? Not so much.

You could have passed Connie on the street corner with no information about her but the shifty-eyed way she watched the world, and you’d instantly know she was the type to spill the beans for enough money. She looked as slimy as her personality: greaseball face, a wig likely styled with canola oil, damp patches at her groin and underarms. The chunky gold watch and necklace she wore were the kind of jewelry owned by CEOs and high rollers, not assholes with Sharpie eyebrows and Juicy sweats.

If Connie had been smart, she would have sold that watch for whatever the pawnshop would give her and headed for the border. Not to a country without an extradition agreement, but a country without an overlord.

READ MORE

Connie wasn’t smart, so she was in an empty, condemned building with me.

She was regretting it.

“We haven’t met before, have we?” she asked, mopping at her forehead with a fistful of dusty napkins from the counter. Before the economy crashed, Soup Express had been one of those places where you ordered at the register and got your food delivered to your table—an uncomfortable mix of fast food and sit-down—and they’d left behind a lot of detritus.

I fought the urge to lean back as Connie sat in the chair across from me, arranging her long, narrow limbs into the pretense of a casual posture. Slouched back, ankles crossed, arms behind her neck. Might have been convincing if she’d held still like that longer than two seconds. She couldn’t stop fidgeting.

Jesus, she didn’t smell right. I expected someone that looked like her to reek of body odor and cologne. Instead, she smelled like rot.

“No, we haven’t met,” I said. Fortunately. “How many contacts do you feed information to, if you can’t remember them all?”

Connie shrugged. It was a short, twitchy gesture, more like someone was tickling the back of her neck and she was trying not to look back to see who it was. “You know how it is. Drop some lethe, lose a year.”

I didn’t know how “it” was. I didn’t even know what “it” was.

I casually lifted the cover of my manila folder and skimmed the top page. Fritz had left me a sticky note about lethe. It said, “Street drug for demons. Stimulant. Subcutaneous insertion via intake bracelet or inhalation via sinuses.”

My eyes flicked up to Connie. Her watch had slid down her bony wrist, revealing an iron band on her forearm. The intake bracelet.

I pretended that I hadn’t noticed it, or at least, that it didn’t surprise me. I wanted Connie to think this was a normal day of the week for me. Like it was part of my morning routine to squeeze information out of spineless piece of shit stool pigeons.

It wasn’t. My job was not so much intimidation and hexes and shooting guns as much as pushing papers from one side of my desk to the other, and occasionally tracking down non-violent perps.

At least, that’s what my job used to be, before I had a bounty put on my head by the incubus mafia. One thing had led to another, I’d gotten promoted to a special team, and the status quo had changed in kind of a big way.

Now here I was, working with demon informants.

A demon. Jesus.

This part definitely wasn’t normal for me.

I had one demon contact. One. And Monique was an artisan, a shut-in, someone who presented no real threat to humanity. And even though a skinny chick like Connie was as unintimidating as I could imagine, I didn’t know what kind of demon tricks she might be able to pull.

These days, frankly, it felt like I didn’t know anything about…anything.

Not that I could let Connie catch on to that.

“We need to talk about the infernal energy event that we detected this weekend,” I said. The words came out smooth. Infernal energy event. Those were three words I’d never put together before in my life, but I thought I made it sound pretty natural.

Connie’s face crumpled like she was about to start crying. “Oh man.”

I let the manila folder drop closed. “So you know about it.”

“Don’t need to ask me about this one. Find someone else. Anyone else.”

I was mostly new to demons, but not new to dealing with informants. There were two kinds of them: the kind that needed intimidation to loosen up, and the kind that needed money. I thought Connie might snap if I tried to intimidate her. Couldn’t imagine pulling the “look at how big and scary I am” moves on a lady anyway, even if she was a demon-lady.

Sliding my wallet out of my pocket, I set it on the table in front of me.

“Let’s take this nice and slow,” I said. “Start from the beginning. Where do you work, Connie?”

Her fidgeting stopped when she spotted my wallet. She swallowed hard. “I hold down a job at Craven’s Casino. Part-time. Janitorial work’s a good way to get info. It’s like I’m invisible in the uniform, you know? You’d be surprised what people say around the staff, like we’re not even there.”

Now she was talking. That was good.

“Craven’s Casino is owned by demons, isn’t it?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah. Obviously. John Ascuaga’s not going to serve long pig ribs on Thanksgiving.”

Who the hell John Ascuaga? What the hell is long pig?

If there was any way to make an investigation more difficult than throwing me at my first demons, it was throwing me at my first demons in an unfamiliar city. But I kept my face smooth as I jotted down the notes to look up later. Just had to look good, look confident, keep Connie talking. My Steno pad already had a full page of notes about this investigation and I’d been working on it for less than twenty-four hours.

“Were you at work when the event occurred, Connie?”

She stiffened. Gave a jerky shrug. Gnawed on a fingernail. “I don’t know.”

Time to rephrase.

“What were you doing on Sunday night at ten o’clock?”

“Working,” she said.

Okay. We were getting somewhere. “Did you notice any strange behavior in the casino that night?”

“It’s always strange in Craven’s, amigo.” Connie tore her thumbnail off, spit it onto the floor. “Our cocktail waitresses wear assless chaps and they let people fuck them. They encourage it. But anyone who fucks them turns up dead. And you don’t need chips to gamble on the floor; you can toss anything valuable on one of those tables and play. Or you can put down nothing at all and let the dealer figure out what you owe. The dealers are happy to take blood or flesh half the time. So you wanna talk strange? At Craven’s?”

She painted an ugly picture. I was starting to feel a little hot. I caught my hand loosening my tie and made myself stop.

It was easy enough to imagine what a demon-owned casino might be like. Helltown, in Los Angeles, played by similar rules—the trade of flesh and blood and souls. Demons liked money, but they liked organic currency much, much better.

I’d been quiet too long. I tried to remember what we were talking about.

“Did you see anything stranger than usual? You know what I mean.”

“David Nicholas was irate,” Connie said. “Normal levels of irate, but…” She stopped. “I don’t know. I just—I don’t know.”

David Nicholas? I flipped through the dossier. No way to make the search look casual now—his information was toward the back. We had no photo, no information on aliases or species. All it said was that David Nicholas was the name of the manager running Craven’s Casino.

I doubted that he was human. Hard to imagine a human that could keep charge of that kind of hellhole.

Pun intended.

“Did you speak with the manager? Do you know what was bothering him?” I asked.

Connie shook her head. “No. I avoid him. Everyone smart avoids him.” Her fingers crawled across the table, toward my wallet. I resisted the urge to put it away and instead opened it. Green paper poked up on one side. Connie’s glassy eyes brightened. “I heard him laughing.”

“Laughing?”

“Cackling,” she said. “David Nicholas was storming around, biting heads off like usual, and then he went into his office for a while. I felt the—this event thing—and when he came out of his office again, he was happy. Happier than I’ve ever seen him.”

I made note of it. “When did he go into his office?”

“Dunno. I was busy mopping the first floor shitters.”

“Is that early in your routine at work, or late?” I asked.

“First thing.”

So David Nicholas’s momentary disappearance probably coincided with the infernal energy event.

It wasn’t much information. It was barely anything at all. I drummed the end of my pen on the table, frowning hard at Connie. She shriveled under my gaze, so I made myself stop. Didn’t want to intimidate her. Hated seeing fear in a woman’s eyes.

“I want to pay you, Connie. If you can tell me anything about what caused the event—including rumors you may have heard—you can walk out of here two hundred dollars richer.” Fritz had actually given me a thousand dollars in cash before sending me into Soup Express for the chat, but I didn’t think Connie was that tough a nut to crack.

“It’s because of her,” Connie whispered, staring fixedly at the floor.

I followed her gaze. She was watching a spider skitter across the dusty concrete. It was a harvestman, a daddy long legs. Connie looked petrified by it.

“They’re not venomous,” I said, bending down to scoop the harvestman up in my fingers.

Connie jerked back, shooting to her feet, sending her chair crashing to the ground.

“Oh man,” she said again, rubbing her hands over her face, raking furrows through her greasy hair.

I went to a cracked window. “There you go, buddy.” I ushered it off of my hand. It delicately stepped off of my fingers and vanished outside. Snow aside, it was a pretty warm night in Reno, Nevada—the harvestman would be fine.

When I turned back to Connie, she had plastered herself flat against the wall. She was shaking harder. Didn’t look like fear anymore. It looked like she might be having a seizure.

“It’s her,” she said again. “She saw me. She knows I’m talking. I’m dead.”

“Who is ‘she?’”

“She wants to find it—she—she knows that it’s there, down in my nest. She’s been asleep for so long and now she’s trying to wake up and she’ll come for me down there.” Tears rolled down her sweat-slicked cheeks. “I said too much. She knows that I said too much. She’ll kill me.”

My heart folded in on itself. “I can protect you. Let me help.”

There was something in Connie’s hand—something velvety black. For a moment I thought she’d snagged my wallet while I was distracted, but it was still on the table.

Whatever she was holding, it had shiny parts.

A knife.

“I need backup!” I shouted, drawing my gun, moving to take cover behind the stairs.

The informant moved too fast for me to stop her. But she didn’t attack me.

She dragged the blade across her throat.

It wasn’t sharp enough to cut with a single swipe. She hacked at her own neck, mangling the flesh. Black blood gushed over her hands. She cut herself open from ear to ear and exposed shining meat under the skin.

I forgot my gun and rushed to stabilize the wound.

“Connie—”

She sagged in my arms.

The back door to the restaurant exploded open. Agent Suzume Takeuchi ran in, gun drawn but aimed at the floor. “What happened?” she asked, scanning the surroundings.

Connie’s blood was stinging my skin. I dropped her and tried to wipe my hands clean on my jacket, but the blood started burning a hole through the breast. I took the whole thing off, swiped my hands dry, and dropped it.

“Jesus,” I said.

Suzy nudged Connie with the toe of her shoe. She didn’t move.

Our informant had killed herself.

COLLAPSE

Darkmoon

Rylie Gresham has survived becoming a werewolf, going crazy from silver poisoning, and being hunted by her fiance’s family. But all of that was nothing compared to the challenge Rylie faces now: being pregnant…with twins. And it definitely doesn’t help that her fiance’s brother has declared himself the father, either.

The brothers, Seth and Abel, are at each other’s throat over Rylie, even as the twins are fast approaching term. But it may be too late for all of them. The government has revealed the existence of werewolves, threatening everything that Rylie holds dear. And the evil werewolf Cain is preparing for his final act of revenge—destroying the pack and stealing Rylie’s children.

Excerpt:

It was seven o’clock at night on a cold December evening, and the news was bad. Seth sat in the living room with Levi rigid beside him. Neither had moved for ten minutes. The others weren’t any cheerier: Bekah was lumped against the wall, Scott and Gwyn were by the window, and nobody breathed as they watched a familiar face give a speech on the TV.

“Evil is real,” said Tate Peterson. His hair was spiked in the front, his eyes were clear, and he wore a neat three-piece suit. His knuckles were white as he gripped the podium in front of him.

Cameras flashed. He swallowed hard and glanced at his note cards.

“Evil is real,” he said again. “I’ve seen it myself. Evil took my mother—a respected county commissioner—and now evil has taken my grandfather, too. The man that you all know as Senator Peterson.”

Another pause, more shuffling cards.

READ MORE

“Evil comes in many forms. There’s evil in the hearts of men. The kind of evil that makes families fight, or forces us to commit crimes. I was a troubled kid. I knew that kind of trouble intimately before I found God.” He looked straight into the camera. “But there is a more literal evil in the darkness, too. It doesn’t care if you smoke pot or engage in homosexual behavior. There are creatures that want your blood, life, and soul. A thousand different kinds of demons: incubi, strigoi, mara.” Tate’s eyes narrowed. “Werewolves.”

Levi stood in a swift motion, haloed by furious energy. “Tate,” he growled, as if he thought his ex-boyfriend would be able to hear him through the TV.

Scott reached for his arm, but Levi jerked away and stormed out of the room. His father moved to follow. Bekah held up a hand.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I’ve got it.”

Tate was still talking as Bekah followed her twin brother out of the house. Seth barely heard the rest of the speech, but he didn’t think the details mattered anyway. The sentiment was perfectly clear.

A hand appeared from off-frame and pushed Tate gently aside. A new man took the podium as the camera zoomed back to show both of them. This speaker was older than Tate, and not nearly as handsome; he kind of looked like an ape in a suit. He had introduced himself at the beginning of the event as Gary Zettel, secretary for the brand new Office of Preternatural Affairs.

“Thank you for sharing that with us, Mr. Peterson,” Secretary Zettel said, a totally inauthentic smile glued to his lips.

It had been eighteen hours since a senator had been assassinated at his office in Washington, allegedly by some kind of demon. Tate’s speech laid out everything for the public: the truth that most people chose to ignore, and which most supernatural creatures tried to conceal from the public.

The United States government had just destroyed centuries of secrecy in one fifteen minute speech.

Only the blast of cold air blowing through the living room managed to draw Seth’s attention from the TV. Stephanie Whyte, doctor and witch, shut the door behind her, unwound her scarf, and hung her jacket on the hook.

Gwyn grabbed the remote and lowered the volume. “Thank goodness you’re back. Did you get everything?”

Stephanie lifted a plastic bag. “I did. Where is she?”

“In our bedroom,” Seth said, feeling queasy with nerves. It wasn’t from the press conference. He had even bigger worries than that. “Should I come with you?”

“I’d like to talk to her on my own first. Wait out here.” Stephanie tucked the bag under her arm and disappeared down the hall.

Seth sank onto the couch again, and Gwyn sat beside him. “It’s going to be okay,” she said, rubbing a cool hand over his arm. He forced a smile.

“Thanks, Gwyn. You’re probably right.”

Secretary Zettel continued to speak in front of the blue curtains with Tate hovering at his back.

“Evil is real, but there’s no reason for the American people to be afraid.” He removed the microphone from its stand and paced across the stage, forcing the camera to follow him. “Yesterday’s attack represented more than just an assassination on a respected senator. It’s an attack on our very freedom. Our nation has come face-to-face with evil, and we will respond with the core of America’s good heart.”

As he walked across the stage, Seth glimpsed people standing behind Tate. The press conference was being staged outside of Senator Peterson’s home, which meant that the rest of the surviving members of the Peterson family were there: Tate’s dad, his aunt, and his newly-widowed grandmother. There were also a cluster of men in black suits. Seth almost skimmed right over them, but one of the faces caught his eye.

“Wait,” he said, reaching for the remote. “Are you recording this, Gwyn?”

“Recording it? With what?” she asked.

Seth punched several buttons, but nothing happened. They had canceled their satellite subscription when they thought that the entire pack was moving to California, so their DVR didn’t work anymore.

“Watch the background,” he said, crouching in front of the screen and pointing at the corner.

“What are we watching for?” Scott asked.

“Just watch.”

Seth held his breath as he waited for Secretary Zettel to pace in the other direction again. And there he was: the man among the people that Seth had initially assumed were Secret Service. He was only on-screen for an instant before the speech ended and it cut back to the newsroom.

“Jesus,” Gwyn breathed. “Was that…?”

“I don’t understand. I didn’t see anything,” Scott said.

It felt like Seth’s heart was going to pound out of his chest.

Those hadn’t been Secret Service. The black suits, black shirts, and Bluetooth earpieces were all hallmarks of the Union.

And his half-brother, Cain, had been standing among them.

Rylie gnawed on her thumbnail as she paced in the twelve foot by twelve foot box that was her bedroom. She hadn’t stepped outside the door for hours. Not since Abel had claimed to be responsible for her pregnancy at the wedding.

She couldn’t face the awkward silences and the judgment in the eyes of her werewolf pack. Nobody had to speak for her to know that everyone thought that she had cheated on Seth.

It seemed so stupid to hung up on that when they had just defeated Cain. But she was. She didn’t even care that she had witnessed her evil mother-in-law die a second time. All she cared was that her pack thought their Alpha was a slut.

Her cheeks burned with the shame of it.

She jumped when her door creaked open, but it wasn’t Bekah trying to console her again. It was Stephanie Whyte, who was her usual brisk self.

“Heck of a night, isn’t it? Lie down and expose your stomach, please.”

The nonexistent bedside manner probably should have bothered Rylie, but it was comforting, for once. Stephanie couldn’t have cared less if Rylie was sleeping with Seth or Abel or Seth and Abel, or every single werewolf in the world. All that Stephanie cared about was doing her job.

Rylie stretched out flat on her back in bed, lifted her shift above her navel, and wiggled her jeans lower on her hips. “What are you going to do?”

Stephanie dragged the desk chair to her bedside and sat down. She squirted a dollop of hand sanitizer onto her fingers. “I’m just going to see if I can feel your fundus. This won’t hurt.”

“My what-us?”

“The top of your uterus. It will help me date your pregnancy.”

Rylie shut her eyes and tried to remember how to breathe. My pregnancy. It had been almost two weeks she took the pregnancy test and saw those two pink lines, but she still wasn’t used to the idea of it.

Stephanie palpated Rylie’s lower abdomen, eyes going distant with thought.

“Well?” Rylie asked after a few seconds of silence.

“What’s the date of your last menstrual period?”

“I don’t know. I don’t keep track.”

She pressed a little harder, but not painfully so. “Hmm. Well, when was the last time you changed into a wolf? Three months? Four?”

“It hasn’t been that long. I skipped a few moons, but…two months? Maybe less?”

“You can pull your shirt down.” Stephanie sat back, steepled her fingers, and gave Rylie a thoughtful look. “The average werewolf can’t sustain a pregnancy because of frequent, violent physical changes. Did you know that?”

“Yeah. Seth told me that I’d never have a baby,” she said.

“So I imagine you weren’t even using condoms, were you? Don’t answer that. I don’t need to know.” The older woman heaved a sigh. “Look, Rylie, you’re not an average werewolf. You’re an Alpha. And you feel like you might already be four months pregnant.” Rylie’s jaw dropped, but Stephanie wasn’t done. “Your fundal height is almost to your navel. You aren’t really showing because first time mothers have strong abdominal muscles.”

If Rylie hadn’t been laying down, she thought she would have fallen over. Dogs only gestated for sixty days. Was she going to have a dog pregnancy? “What does that mean? Does that mean I’m growing supernaturally fast? Do werewolves do that?”

“We don’t know anything yet. It’s too soon to worry.” Stephanie grabbed the plastic bag she had brought off the floor. “You’re hyperventilating, Rylie. Relax.” She punctuated those words by pulling out several color-coded vials and a needle. A very long needle.

“What’s that for?”

“It’s so I can draw your blood and make sure things are progressing normally. We’ll have to treat this as a high-risk pregnancy…assuming that you plan on keeping it.” She snapped on blue latex gloves.

Rylie was grateful for the surge of anger she felt at that suggestion. It was a nice change from the utter terror. “Of course I’m keeping it! What kind of person do you think I am?”

Stephanie wiped down the inside of Rylie’s elbow with an alcohol swab. “I think you’re the kind of person that turns furry twice a month. We’re not even certain that you can carry the baby to term, or that it will be healthy. We don’t even know who the father is. This isn’t a simple situation, and I would understand if you chose to abort.”

That was such an ugly word. “Abort.” Rylie felt queasy again.

“Seth’s the father. I’ve only ever had sex with him.”

“Right,” Stephanie said.

A sharp prick, and the needle was in. Rylie watched in sick fascination as the blood spurted into the vial with every beat of her heart. Once the first was filled, Stephanie swapped it out, and she ended up filling four vials total. She pressed cotton against the needle’s insertion point and withdrew it.

There was no need for a bandage. Rylie healed instantly.

“I can send one of these to a lab for paternity testing,” Stephanie said, turning the chair toward the desk to label the vials.

Rylie sat up, rubbing her arm. “Are you listening to me? I don’t need paternity testing. I would never cheat on Seth!”

Aside from the one time she had kissed Abel, anyway. But kissing didn’t produce babies.

“As I said, you’re hardly a typical situation. If you think that there’s any chance—even a small one—that you might have mated with Abel while in wolf form, then I recommend a paternity test. It would be good for your peace of mind, if nothing else.”

Rylie groaned and let her head bump against the wall.

Squeezing her eyes tight, she nodded once.

Stephanie dropped the vials in an envelope. “I’ll contact the hospital and arrange a dating ultrasound as soon as possible.” She removed her gloves and threw them in the trash. “I think it would be best if I performed the scan myself.”

“You don’t think you’ll look inside and see a puppy, do you?”

She had meant it as a joke, but Stephanie didn’t laugh.

“I’ll tell Seth he can visit you again,” she said on her way out of the room.

Rylie grabbed the wastebasket and threw up for the third time that day.

She had been having morning sickness for a while, and it wasn’t getting any easier. It always left her feeling dizzy and weak—almost as bad as silver poisoning. But Rylie could try to purge silver from her system. There was no purging a baby.

Assuming you plan on keeping it, Stephanie had said.

The suggestion of abortion angered Rylie, but it wasn’t the first time she had thought about it. Whether Seth or Abel was the father, it was going to be Eleanor’s grandchild. Eleanor was pure evil, and so was her oldest son, Cain, who was also a werewolf. And since there was no chance that Rylie was going to produce human offspring, the odds of making a baby like Cain were pretty high.

She buried her face in her arms. Maybe her baby was going to be a monster, but Rylie couldn’t kill it. She couldn’t.

The door opened, and Seth entered. She thought that he was going to be angry, but he only looked stunned. “We have a problem,” he said.

“I know,” Rylie said. Her chin quivered.

“You already know?” Seth looked puzzled. “Were you watching the news in here?”

“Huh? I was talking about this.” She placed her hands over her stomach. “What are we going to do?”

The shock vanished from Seth’s face and was immediately replaced by sympathy. “Oh, baby.” He sat at her side and wrapped his arms around her. He was so gentle, so sweet, and tears immediately spilled out of her eyes and splashed down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Seth.”

He pulled back to look at her. “Sorry?”

“I didn’t tell you. I can’t…I just…”

He wiped her tears away with the palm of his hand. “I just wish you had told me so that you wouldn’t have to deal with it alone. I’m not angry. Just surprised.” Seth gave a shaky laugh. “I didn’t think I’d ever be a dad.”

His hand trailed down her stomach and rested on her belly button, and Rylie put her hand over his. There was only a small, soft lump under her shirt. “Stephanie thinks that I might be growing too fast,” she said, and she couldn’t keep her voice from shaking.

Seth responded by kissing her, slow and deep, without moving his hand. Even though she had been throwing up, he still kissed her like he meant it. But when he pulled away, he wasn’t smiling.

“What were you saying about the news when you came in?” Rylie asked, grateful for a distraction.

“Forget about it. What about…” He trailed off, seeming to choke on the words he wanted to say. He cleared his throat and tried again. “What about Abel? I mean, there’s no chance, right? There’s no way that Abel could be…”

This time, when his words failed, he gave up speaking. But Rylie couldn’t respond.

When she remained silent, he kissed her again.

“Whatever happens,” he murmured against her lips, “I’m going to be here for you. We’ll do this together. Okay?”

Rylie rested her head on his chest. “Okay.”

COLLAPSE

The Cain Chronicles

Book Cover: The Cain Chronicles
Part of the The Cain Chronicles series:

Rylie Gresham has enjoyed two peaceful years as Alpha of the last werewolf pack in existence. But she's feeling kind of confused. Her boyfriend, Seth, has been away at college, and her feelings for his brother, Abel, have been growing as they run the pack together.

Everything gets a lot more complicated when someone sends her a silver bullet and a threatening message. It throws her into a deadly battle with enemies old and new, which is only slightly less perilous than the battle inside her heart. Sooner or later, she's going to have to choose: will she marry Seth, or follow her feelings for Abel?

This is a collection of the first four episodes of The Cain Chronicles, a serialized novel. It amounts to approximately 65,000 words. If you've read episodes 1-4 before, there's nothing new here. If you're just joining the story -- enjoy! 🙂

NEW MOON SUMMER
Rylie is Alpha: the leader of the werewolves. They're an endangered species living in a sanctuary, and she's guarded them for two peaceful years. The peace is shattered when somebody sends Rylie a threatening silver bullet. A new member of the pack goes missing. And to make things worse, her inner wolf is strangely attracted to her boyfriend's brother, leaving her torn between the love of two men--one of them a werewolf, and the other a former hunter.

BLOOD MOON HARVEST
Rylie's home has been turned into a battle zone by attacking hunters--and by her conflicted heart. Her wolf and human sides are in love with different men, and neither Seth nor Abel will give Rylie up without a fight. To save her pack, Rylie will have to find out who Cain is. To save herself, she'll have to choose between the man she wants and the man she needs.

MOON OF THE TERRIBLE
Abel is struggling to find his footing at the werewolf sanctuary when he receives terrible news: the girl he loves and his brother have vanished. Seth calls to claim that they're eloping, but Abel knows it's a lie. There's no way that Rylie would get married without telling him. Not when the memory of her scorching kiss is still burning on his lips. Certain that something is wrong, Abel drops everything to rescue Rylie and Seth--and stake his claim over his mate.

RED ROSE MOON
Rylie Gresham, Alpha of the endangered werewolf species, is pregnant. The fact that she's only eighteen and maybe a tiny bit in love with her boyfriend's brother isn't even the worst part: the baby is going to be a werewolf, too. Certain that Seth is the father, she finally agrees to marry him, even if her heart is still filled with doubt.

Abel is being held captive by Cain when he hears about Rylie's condition--and the shocking circumstances surrounding the conception. Rylie and Abel have been mating on the full moons, so there's a chance that he's the father, and she has no clue. Now Abel has to escape Cain and crash the wedding before his mate marries his brother.

A zombie mother-in-law, back-stabbing hunters, and wicked morning sickness mean that they're all in for one heck of a party.

Published:
Publisher: Red Iris Books
Genres:
Tags: