RTV ran into Jess on Twitter, she’s quite wacky and a whole lot of fun. She loved the idea of an excerpt of the brand new novel, the latest book in her “Others” series, entitled Forsaken by the Others. Her promotional formatting was so cool we decided to go with it, adjusted slightly to fit. Enjoy, and go buy your copy now.
Jess Haines writes about furred and fanged things that go bump in the night. Best known for the H&W Investigations urban fantasy series, she’s been writing since she was a teenager and first published in 2010. Her latest release is Forsaken by the Others (Kensington/Zebra; July 2, 2013).
119 West 40 Street 21st floor
New York, NY 10018
Forsaken by the Others Back Cover Copy
The Others — vampires, werewolves, things that go chomp in the night — don’t just live in nightmares anymore. They’ve joined with the mortal world. And for private investigator Shiarra Waynest, that means mayhem . . .
Have a one night stand with a vampire, and you can end up paying for it for eternity. P.I. Shiarra Waynest, an expert on the Others, knows that better than most. Yet here she is, waking up beside charismatic vamp Alec Royce with an aching head . . . and neck. Luckily, Shia has the perfect excuse for getting out of town — namely, a couple of irate East Coast werewolf packs who’d like to turn her into a chew toy.
On Royce’s suggestion, Shia temporarily relocates to Los Angeles. But something is rotten — literally &mdashp; in the state of California, where local vampires are being attacked by zombies. Who could be powerful enough to control them–and reckless enough to target the immortal? Following the trail will lead Shia to a terrifying truth, and to an ancient enemy with a personal grudge. . .
Publisher: Kensington / Imprint: Zebra
Format(s): Paperback / E-book
Forsaken by the Others — book excerpt — by Jess Haines
“You two are insane. First the Goliaths, now that ridiculous pretender? Do you have any idea how crazy that guy is?”
Sara huffed, folding her arms. “Do you have any idea how crazy it is that we’re being asked to find where this necromancer is hiding without the help of police or other authorities to track him down? Stop judging our methods and let us do our job. You have a better idea of where we should be looking? We’re all ears.”
Trinity shook her head and started driving, not saying a thing.
Even if she was of the opinion that Thrane was nuttier than a fruitcake, it didn’t deter me. I had been dealing with more than enough weirdoes since I had arrived in Los Angeles. The addition of a few more didn’t seem like such a big deal.
Clyde might have thought he was the Master of All He Sees and Then Some, but the reality was that he couldn’t be everywhere at once, and to have a slice of land in the middle of what was supposed to be his Valley — territory — whatever — belonging to another vampire meant that he didn’t have as tight a grip on his holdings as he would have liked us to believe. Plus, three of the attacks had taken place on the borders between Thrane’s and Clyde’s territories, which meant that Thrane might know which way the necromancer went, might have seen something useful, or maybe would be willing to help us if he was also losing people.
Granted, now that we’d stopped in front of what — according to Trinity’s sarcastic explanation — was supposed to be Thrane’s base of operation, I could see why Clyde had appeared more annoyed than worried when he mentioned the “Master” of this borderline slice of land between Burbank and Glendale. The neighborhood, though not as nice as the one where Gavin lived, or as nasty as that armpit in Sun Valley we’d stopped in, wasn’t real impressive, mainly small businesses sandwiched between apartments and old houses.
At first I thought Trinity must have been kidding. The place was nothing more than a run-down sports bar with dirty windows that obscured a dimly seen television mounted in the corner. There was a sign above the nearly deserted bar proclaiming they had a weeknight special on Budweiser and hot wings. Tucked away in a dark alcove on the side of the building was the door Trinity said led to Thrane’s hideout. It was so narrow that I would have mistaken it for the location of the building’s circuit breakers.
Sara and I approached the place together, wrinkling our noses at the padlocked dumpster only a few yards away from the entrance to the vampire’s hideout. This was nothing like the splendor I had seen vampires use to sequester themselves from humanity’s prying eyes. If I hadn’t gotten a nod in the affirmative when I gave Trinity a dubious look over my shoulder, I never would have guessed that Thrane lived here. It was either a terrifically clever front, or terribly sad.
Sara stepped aside, and I knocked lightly on the door. A muffled voice came from the other side. “Password?”
Nonplussed, I looked at Trinity, who shrugged. Confused, I said, “I . . . don’t know?”
The door — was that piled-on insulation held on with duct tape? — opened, revealing a guy wearing track pants and a T-shirt slung over his shoulder. His skin was frightfully pale, and his hairy stomach protruded a bit over the top of his pants. He grinned broadly at Sara and me, flashing fangs. “Ladies, ladies, ladies! Call me Mac-daddy.” He paused, then added thoughtfully, “Actually, if you’re here to see me, you can call me anything you want.”
Sara and I both hastily stepped back — probably a bit too quickly, considering the tragic look of disappointment that crossed his features — before a pleasant, feminine voice called out from the shadows behind him. “Mac, who is it? Get out of the damn door and let them in.”
He got out of the way, disappearing into the dark. This was no more reassuring. Particularly as a third voice called out to us, this time another woman. “Are you just going to stand there all night?”
Terrifying as the thought of walking into that dark pit was, we weren’t going to accomplish anything by standing in the alley. Sara fell into step behind me as I marched with what I hoped was a brave and dangerous expression into the vampire den.
If I’d thought the outside was bad, the inside was . . . bad.
A set of narrow, rickety wooden stairs sans railing led down about four feet into a cramped, narrow basement with a high ceiling. Fluorescent track lighting made everything take on a sickly, dim color. Someone had salvaged a large strip of puke-orange shag carpeting and laid it down on the bare concrete in the center of the room. The walls were beige and covered with posters, and there was a bulletin board that, at a glance, contained charming announcements like “Jason is a fag” scrawled in heavy permanent marker on scraps of paper between the job postings and concert flyers.
Though my own furniture in my apartment — cripes, did I still have anything of my own anymore? My landlord had probably dumped all of my crap out on the street by now. Ahem, back on track — though my own furniture was or had been of Ikea-level quality, it looked like the mismatched couches and chairs in this sprawling basement lair had gone a few rounds with their local Salvation Army store.
The vampires didn’t look much better.
Some wore jeans and T-shirts. Some wore stuff straight out of a goth fashion magazine. One wore a pizza delivery shirt and cap, obviously either just coming from or leaving for a job.
Now I understood why Clyde was so obviously disgusted when he mentioned this Jimmy guy.
“Mr. Thrane?” I asked the room in general, not sure which one of the vampires to address. There wasn’t much of a structure to this pack of misfits that I could pick up. The stuffy, musty scent and strangely echoic quality of the space, added to the cold due to the lack of body heat from the vampires, gave the impression of being at the bottom of a grave.
A frat boy’s grave, maybe, but a grave, nonetheless.
The vampire lounging on the couch in the back nodded, touching the brim of his top hat. It was the only article of clothing he had on that was in good repair. Once he moved his hand, I could see a tattoo or something under one of his eyes.
“Ma’am. Might I ask why you’re calling on us this fine evening?”
Well, at least he was polite. Sara, who had the look of rigid, forced politeness she often assumed when dealing with a client who made her uncomfortable, introduced us.
“Mr. Thrane, my name is Sara Halloway, and this is Shiarra Waynest, my business partner. We’re private investigators. We wanted to ask for your help and see if you might have any information that might lead us to a resolution of some difficulties for a client.”
“Wow, right on. Real private investigators?”
I glanced at the guy who had earlier been identified as Mac, giving him a look. He shrugged and grinned.
Thrane was not as impressed. “Fascinating. Really. But I would very much like to know how you two have heard of me and what you think I can do for you.”
My turn to field the questions. “We heard that you’re the ruler of some territory outside of Clyde Seabreeze’s control. If that’s the case, you may have information about who has been behind the murders and disappearances of Clyde’s people.”
Thrane’s reaction was not what I had expected. At all. His fangs extended, and his eyes blazed red as he shot to his feet, pointing an accusatory finger at me. “You’re working for that . . . that . . . usurper?”
Sara grabbed my arm so tightly, it went numb. The other vampires didn’t seem very impressed, watching us with bored expressions. Once my heart crawled out of my throat and closer to the region it belonged, I squeaked out a few words.
“We — uh . . . yes?”
As suddenly as the anger had risen, it was gone. He blinked, and his eyes were normal again, the fangs retracting as he airily waved a hand at us. “Poofty von Metrofaggen can go find someone else to play his games. I’m not interested.”
“Jimmy,” one of the girls stage-whispered, her eyes comically huge in her heart-shaped face framed by inky black curls, “Jimmy, those are humans.”
I have never seen so many vampires so intensely interested in me at the same time. Talk about unnerving. Every one of them went deathly still — and I mean deathly — as their unblinking eyes locked onto us. It was like being stared at by a room full of china dolls. Hungry china dolls that are thinking about eating your face.
©2013 by Jess Haines. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. See above for information on how to find your copy, check local booksellers, or go to Amazon.com (e.g.). We will endeavor to supply links on the rebound.
“Jesse, this is most puzzling. There are a lot of references to blood in here, and it’s clear that they’re not necessarily talking about some form of sacrifice. Do you have any light to shed on this?”
He blinked but kept his expression steady. “Well, I, um —”
Amanda laughed. “It’s okay; I don’t think that this text is talking about ancient vampires or whatever. I’m in fact wondering if it’s a symbolic allusion to some kind of ancient Eucharist. But still, it’s quite strange. Any chance that I could borrow this from you?” She looked up at him hopefully. She was clearly both enthralled and intrigued with the book.
Jesse found it difficult to refuse her — in spite of the little voice in his head reminding him that if the Clan elders discovered the text missing and in the hands of a mortal, he’d most likely be staked. “I — perhaps, yes. Was there something you wanted to look into further?” As he gazed into her liquid, dark brown eyes, he tried desperately to remember why he gave her the text to begin with. Ah, yes, to impress her. And certainly she was impressed — and perhaps was also more observant and skilled in Latin than he had originally anticipated. Her translation proceeded at a rate even Amaltheia would’ve found proficient.
Finally, she stopped scribbling and took an additional sip from her glass. “Hold on one moment,” she requested, grabbing her purse, “I’ll be right back.” She smiled at him and ran to the women’s restroom.
He started to speak but thought better of it, gazing at her half-finished wine. What a lightweight she is, he mused. And how incredibly competent at Latin. Not to mention, he thought with a frown, very . . . intuitive . . . when intoxicated.
Idly, Jesse wondered how a few drops of blood mixed with her drink might aid her psychic skills. You idiot. You do that and there’s no turning back. Having her ingest his blood as a mortal would give him a light psychic connection to her, enough to know her location, or perhaps read her thoughts. That connection also would be very difficult to get rid of if he later desired to do so.
Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he watched Amanda standing by the women’s restroom, engaged in what looked to be friendly banter with another male patron. Perhaps a little . . . too friendly for his tastes.
Eyes narrowing, he quickly stuck his finger into his mouth, nicked it with his teeth, and deposited a few drops of his blood into her wine.
She’ll never notice, he thought smugly.
She returned some moments later to find him sitting calmly, sipping his wine. “Hi, I’m back,” she declared with a grin. “Now, where was I? Ah, yes . . . how old did you say this text was? And where did it come from?”
“I’m . . . not certain,” he admitted. “At least a thousand years or so ago it was written, I am guessing.” More like two thousand, but he didn’t want to admit to that. Not just yet.
He watched her carefully as she took a sip of her wine, slowly placed the glass back on the table, and made scribbles in her notebook. At one point she stopped reading and looked up, her finger on her mouth. Jesse couldn’t tell if she was confused or deep in thought — or both.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked her, inwardly cringing with anxiety. Did she taste the blood? Did she perhaps sense something wrong with the wine?
“Oh, um, no, no, nothing at all.” She shook her head as if dispelling something. Then she shrugged and laughed. “Was just wondering something.”
Amanda put her head back down in the book and took notes while Jesse observed her, fascinated. While her focus was still on the Latin writings, she reached out her left hand to the wine glass, which slid, of its own accord, a few inches closer to her hand.
It took Jesse a few moments to register what he had seen. By the Blood, she’s a natural. Dazed, he kept watching her, but she gave no appearance of having noticed what she had apparently done while under the influence of a glass or two of wine. It occurred to him that perhaps she had always been telekinetic and didn’t think much of using it while intoxicated. Either that or the blood he had slipped into her drink had temporarily — or perhaps permanently — increased her abilities. He suspected, given her keen interest in occult Latin texts, that he would be seeing much of this young woman in the days to come.
Not that I would mind, he figured, observing the way the folds of her sweater fell over her breasts and hips.
Some minutes later, she finally put down her pen. An animated dialogue ensued about various other occult texts that she had read while working on her thesis, mostly medieval and modern derivations of Ancient Greek and Roman magick. Amanda spoke of how they related and were also altogether, unlike this work, part of which she had translated. While she conversed with him, he couldn’t help but wonder whether or not she guessed his real purpose in showing her this text and taking her out for dinner. Perhaps she might realize that maybe he was interested in her?
Hours later, he walked Amanda to the subway station, smiling and nodding along as she rambled about various Greek and Latin texts, responding when he could to some of her statements and answering vaguely to others.
Amanda, be careful, she heard in that small but clear male voice which sometimes spoke in her mind.
Apollo? she thought back, but heard nothing afterwards. Maybe it was my Agathos Daimon. Her guardian spirit.
They stopped at the entranceway, and she turned to thank him for the wonderful evening and for tolerating her rather fanatical interest on some subjects and for a lovely dinner, but was interrupted by Jesse leaning in so fast she almost didn’t see him move. Before she could utter another word his lips were on hers. Everything at that moment stopped except for her heart, which she heard in her ears. Upon finally pulling apart, she realized that she wasn’t breathing and an electric current ran through her skin. Amanda was on fire, and she was alive, so alive, in that moment.
He left shortly after that. Amanda stared after him, agape. She turned to look up at the sky, but all she saw was light, endless light from the buildings, the faint traces of stars in the moonless sky, and all of it swirling around her.
©2008-2009 Adrianne Brennan
Excerpted from the book Blood of the Dark Moon.