TRUE NORTH – Book 3 in the UNDERTOW SERIES
EXPECTED RELEASE DATE:
FEBRUARY 6, 2018
For Eila Walker, history has become its own demon. After months of trying to keep ahead of those who are hunting her, Eila is more than ready to end her days of running. But her ancestor, Elizabeth, has left a twisted legacy in her wake that shadows Eila still, nearly 170 years later. When her grandfather reveals that he has kept a priceless piece of the past hidden in his vault on the island of Polaris, Eila and her friends are hopeful they may finally find the answers they so desperately need.
But just when Polaris is beginning to feel like a safe haven, a brutal attack leaves the group shattered. Eila, desperate to end the violence, soon finds herself drawn into the decadent underworld of the Mortis, where lies become truths, and allies . . . become killers.
~ SAMPLE ~
The Lucky Lady was still as bad as I remembered it. I couldn’t believe we were back at the same dive where we’d met Rillin for the first time. That night, he found us. Tonight, we were aiming to find him, but as I scanned the crowd of lowlifes, I didn’t see anyone that looked like a Mortis. Granted, I couldn’t identify one of our kind by looks alone, but people who stood out in a crowd – build, looks, and the general way they moved – always caught my eye.
Mortis had a predatory way of stalking that came off as a forbidden but tempting allure to most humans. It was subtly different from the average human trolling for a one-night stand, or even a murderer, marking his targets for the night.
Kian and I watched the crowd as we silently played pool, leaving the seven ball out of play and in the corner pocket. It was how we had signaled Rillin the first night we met him, as we were looking to buy some of his Blacklist names.
Back then we had no idea he had ties to Elizabeth. I also didn’t know that he had already been in contact with Eila. Twice. Once I found out that he had spoken with E and she hadn’t told me, we got in a fight. It was the first major argument we had and I said some truly hurtful things that I wanted to kick myself repeatedly for saying.
I reached up to my neck, my fingers tracing the shark tooth necklace that Eila had made me while we were in the Bahamas. I tried to forget the way the tears threatened her eyes as I yelled at her. I had been a brute, letting fear overwhelm my emotions, and I took it out on her. That fight between us had been months ago, and I begged her to forgive me, and she did so.
Of course, she also put me in my place and took my ego down a few pegs, but she forgave me.
I had learned to believe in her strength as a fighter, as a warrior, and though I still would always fear for her life, I trusted her. It was still difficult, however, to let go.
At night, when she would sleep curled against me, I would trace my hand carefully over her face and neck, marveling at her multitude of caramel-colored freckles. I would listen to the easy rhythm of her heartbeat and watch the rise and fall of her chest. Her fair skin contrasted with my sun-kissed body, and in the darkness, my hand sometimes looked like a massive spider sitting dangerously on her neck.
One squeeze and I could crush her throat, halting her life before she even woke.
That was what haunted me when the world was silent and the fears I tried to keep in check crawled just under my skin. My girl, for all the power she wielded, was still human and my kind was brilliant at killing mankind. And yes, she could throw the Light and burn my kind to ash in an instant, but the Mortis had speed. Stealth. They traveled through the darkness silently and, like me, she couldn’t identify one on sight. I knew that somewhere, deep down, she understood how dangerous we soul thieves were, but I suspected she locked the knowledge away.
Her fearlessness would always be her greatest asset and her greatest liability.
I watched as Kian walked past me with his polished pool cue, heading to set up his next shot, and forced myself to focus on the task at hand. We needed to find Rillin, though I made a silent promise to myself that I would enter the training rooms with Eila from now on. I wanted to train alongside her. I NEEDED to train alongside her and then maybe, seeing her fight daily, I would not fear for her life constantly.
“This is not working,” Kian said in a hushed tone, forcing me to put my concerns about E in the back of my mind for the time being, knowing she was home with MJ and Ana for the night. Kian and I had played five rounds at this point, and pretended to drink as many beers to avoid drawing attention.
I watched as he took his shot, sinking two balls at once, and scanned the room again. By leaving the seven ball in the corner pocket, we had hoped to attract another dealer who may’ve seen or heard about Rillin, or even knew of Booth, but every patron inside the seedy bar looked entirely human and as if they were scraped off the floor of humanity’s discount section.
I did, however, keep an eye on one guy who was dressed in a button-down shirt and acting fairly buzzed. He’d been fawning over a young waitress the entire time we’d been there. Normally I would’ve ignored him, except that I knew he wasn’t actually drunk. Every time the waitress brought him a new beer, he’d take a few sips then head to the bathroom. When he’d return, the drink would be nearly empty.
“What do you make of the guy at the bar?” I asked Kian, subtly looking at the man in question. Kian pretended to take a swig of his beer and cast a glance over his shoulder as he did so. He set the bottle back on the pool table and leaned down, as if setting up his next shot. He spoke to the green felt, rather than looking at me. “Dude with the button-down who’s been acting a bit drunk but hasn’t actually been drinking?”
Like me, Kian didn’t miss much. “Yeah, that’s him.”
“He’s not a Mortis. His hunting tactics are too obvious.” Kian took the shot, sinking another ball.
“Obvious to us, but I don’t think the waitress is catching on,” I replied. As she passed by the guy again, he gently caught her arm and paid her yet another compliment. She blushed and thanked him. Not good, especially the pretending to drink part. “He’s going to stay until closing.”
Kian nodded. “He’s going try to convince her to go with him for something stupid, like coffee, and she’s gonna fall for it.” He looked at me as he rested the end of the cue stick on the ground, signaling me to take a shot. I knew he was thinking the same thing I was – we needed to somehow intervene between the young waitress, who was probably just a college student trying to make ends meet, and the scumball who was targeting her. Rapists like him were easy to identify when you spent centuries stalking humanity from the shadows.
I came over to Kian, swiping my beer from the edge of the table, cue stick clenched in my hand. “I could use a hit.”
“Me too,” he replied, a sly smile forming on his lips as he rested his pool cue against the table and dug a quarter from his pocket. He fit the coin over he fist, thumb at the ready. “Heads or Tails?”
“Tails,” I replied, and Kian flicked the coin into the air, catching it easily in his palm. He opened his hand to reveal my choice and grumbled something about starving.
I leaned back against the table next to him and we both lazily scanned the room, as if we were checking out the crowd for a couple of ladies for ourselves. “Next time he gets up for the bathroom, I’ll follow. When I do, you flag the waitress and get us another round. Keep her busy and while you’re at it, you may as well ask her if she’s run into anyone who looks like a heavily scarred cage fighter. For all we know, she may’ve seen Rillin.”
Kian nodded, but warned, “Don’t kill him. If you leave his body in the bathroom, this place will be closed down for sure.”
I looked at Kian, my eyebrow raised. This place was a total Hell hole.
He sighed, “Eh, screw it. This place sucks. Kill the bastard and leave him sprawled by the toilet. I’ll make sure the waitress has a tip that will last her until she can find a better place to work.”
“Now you’re talking,” I replied and pressed the beer bottle to my lips, trying to act like an average human, rather than a flawless killer.