THE PUREST OF THE BREED, Book Two in The Community Series
Plagued by enemies from above and below ground, a group of Vârcolac warriors fight a desperate battle to keep their secret town safe from invasion
A different place to find her dreams…
The night Marissa Bonaventure is saved from vicious kidnappers by special operative, Dev Nichita, her life is changed in ways she never could have imagined. Brought to the safety of an underground “research institute,” she’s offered a hefty sum of money to stay on and work for a year, money that will allow her to fulfill her lifelong dream of owning a restaurant. But the surreal events that unfold in the strange community of Ţărână soon make her wonder if all is what it seems. When the shocking truth about Dev is exposed, Marissa faces an impossible decision. She loves Dev deeply, but committing to a Vârcolac is a forever proposition, and the only way she can be with Dev will require her to throw away her one chance to redeem a miserable past.
The man he wants to be…
The night Dev Nichita rescues Marissa from the claws of the Om Rău demon race, he knows she’s meant to be his mate. Lying to her about his true nature feels wrong, but he needs time to make her fall in love with him before he reveals that he’s a different breed of human being. When that secret finally comes out, their relationship is shattered in ways Dev hadn’t predicted. A 100-year-old betrayal rises up to endanger their future together—devastating every member of his family—and Dev’s own angry withdrawal becomes a nearly insurmountable obstacle. Then the Topside Om Rău enemy threatens a catastrophic breach of the hidden community, and Dev must call upon all his power as he races against the clock to save the most important people in his life.
** THE PUREST OF THE BREED is a dark paranormal romance. It contains profanity and strong adult situations.
June, 2:36 a.m.
Marissa Bonaventure sat bolt upright in bed. Wood cracked and splintered, a door banged, furniture scraped. She gulped for air, her heart galloping in her chest. A hovering silence followed. She waited, the thundering of her heart trying to outrun her fast breathing, but there was only silence. Okay, Jesus… She squeezed her lids tight then peeled them open again. Only a nightmare. She blinked groggily at the dim numbers on her digital clock—2:36 a.m.—her mind slowly registering that she’d only been asleep for about an hour. She’d worked late cooking at Bleu Boheme restaurant tonight, some lactose intolerant asshole endlessly chewing her ear off about all of the cheese on the menu. Well, yes, sir, this is a French restaurant, after all, and generally—
A gruff voice growled a command, and then her roommate, Lila, started screaming. Holy frick! Not a nightmare.
There were men in her apartment!
Coming fully awake on a searing blast of adrenaline, Marissa vaulted for the cordless phone on her nightstand. Her wildly groping fingers knocked the receiver out of its holder and sent it skidding across the thin synthetic carpet. “Oh, God, crap.” She threw herself after the phone, and crashed off her mattress, the sheets tangled around her legs. Air drove from her lungs. “Crap,” she gasped again. “Crap.” Darts of pain shot through her elbow.
The report of heavy boots in the hallway vibrated through the floor beneath her, the footsteps thundering toward her bedroom. Panic shot through her stomach and clawed up her spine. She stretched one arm toward the phone by her hamper, scooting her body across the floor like an epileptic caterpillar trapped in its cocoon.
The door slammed open.
She jerked to a sitting position, her heart lurching to a dead halt. A broad-shouldered shadow loomed into her doorway, the light from her digital clock offering only a vague impression of dark, baggy clothing, the cut of a hard jaw…and the most sinister eyes she’d ever seen in her life. A scream launched up her throat but stuck there, unable to make it past the strangulation of terror gripping her larynx.
“In here!” the intruder shouted down the hall, his head turning to reveal what looked like stripes of gangrene on his jaw. No…a black flame tattoo.
Another man entered, and her mouth sagged. And she thought Gangrene Face’s shoulders had been broad. The man who’d just shoved into her room was twice as big, his shoulders size Incredible Hulk, and a hundred times scarier. She saw him clearly as the lights from a Navy helicopter on its weary way home to NAS North Island raked through her organza curtains like a prison searchlight. A body clothed in a black leather jacket and dark cargo pants was revealed, along with the man’s shaved head, sporting tattoos—same black flames as Gangrene—climbing from above his ears to the top of his bald head. He looked like an Aryan Nation sociopath, brutal and violent and…what could he possibly want with her?
He stalked toward her, and her stomach iced. She scuttled sideways against the wall like a crab, her teeth set in a grimace, her eyes darting toward her bedroom window. Only a few feet away, but…five floors down equaled lots of bone breakage on the streets of San Diego.
“She must be the bit o’ skirt we’re lookin’ for,” Gangrene told Hulk in a British accent which really didn’t fit this scenario.
Hulk drew up right in front of her, six-feet-umpteen-inches of darkness, chilling, ruthless power emanating from him.
She kicked violently at the jail of her sheets and found a scream, finally, belting it out as loud as she could.
“Shut your gob,” Hulk snarled.
Like a genie being commanded into its bottle, her voice obeyed immediately and rammed back down her throat. Yes, yes, upsetting a man like this is an extremely bad idea.
He reached for her.
She pressed backward so hard, she wondered the drywall didn’t crack against her spine.
Grabbing her shoulders, Hulk jerked her out of the wrap of her sheets and onto her feet, the violence of the gesture jolting a cry past her lips. With a bruising grip still on her upper arm, Hulk hauled her at a stumbling pace from her bedroom into the hallway.
“Please,” she gasped, hot tears spilling down her face. “What do you want from me?”
They passed her roommate’s bedroom, and Marissa glimpsed Lila peeking out from behind the door, a bed sheet wrapped toga-style around her body. Not such a good night to get caught sleeping in the nude.
Lila’s lips trembled. “Oh, Marissa,” she breathed.
Her roommate’s you’re doomed tone turned Marissa’s legs to pudding, just, squish, down she went onto her knees.
Hulk made a guttural sound of impatience and yanked her to her feet again.
“P-please,” she stammered. “D-Don’t hurt me, please.” She pulled against his hold, but it was like trying to stop a Kodiak bear. Her feet skidded along the length of the hallway, carpet burning the soles of her feet.
“Cow,” Hulk snarled. So much for not upsetting the man. He tossed her over his shoulder, the chains on his biker jacket biting into her skin through the thin fabric of her pajamas. The rounded position of her back pulled painfully at her spine, and she choked on her next breath. The fragility of her body, something she usually so successfully ignored, roared dead-center into her consciousness. Panic greyed the sides of her vision at the feel of hard, solid muscles beneath her. This man was massive. He could do anything to her, anything, and she’d be utterly helpless to stop him.
“Lila!” Marissa screamed, more tears dripping off her nose. “Call 911!”
“Oh, shit!” Lila lurched out from behind her door.
With a careless backhand, Hulk swatted Lila across the mouth, the blow, shockingly, lifting Lila off her feet and rocketing her all the way back onto her bed. She thumped onto her mattress with a frightened cry, her makeshift toga breezing above her waist and her legs flinging wide, giving everyone a full-on shot of her muff.
Gangrene leered at the sight. “Hang about, Mürk. I want to give this one a stuffin’.”
“There’s no time,” Hulk—apparently, Mürk—retorted. “We’ve got to leg it, Tëer, everyone else is at the warehouse by now.”
Tëer grumbled something foul, but tramped out of the apartment along with Mürk, thankfully for Lila’s virtue, and got into the elevator.
Fingers tangled into the back of Mürk’s jacket, Marissa prayed for some late night partier to come home conveniently now and find her upended on this behemoth’s shoulder. She filled her lungs with a potential scream just in case, but no such luck. The parking lot was equally Judgment Day deserted and dark. The scratching together of palm fronds in a mild June breeze was the only sound besides the clomp of both men’s heavy boots on the asphalt.
They stopped at a rusted-out blue Honda Civic, one headlight-eyeball dangling from the front by wiry veins, and then screech, metallic hinges wailed for oil as Mürk hauled open the trunk. He flung Marissa off his shoulder with all the care he’d show a dead body, and—the trunk!
She fastened cat claws into his T-shirt and clambered back up his body. “No!”
He peeled her off and thrust her toward the dark opening again.
She crammed her foot against the edge of the trunk, the metal sharp and cold against her bare flesh. “Don’t put me in there!”
With a growl, he folded her into a ball and slammed her inside.
Ribs met spare tire in a dizzying blast of pain. Her spine throbbed. She wheezed a breath and shoved upright, ignoring the pinpricks of light sparkling across the field of her vision.
With a palm on her shoulder, Mürk rammed her back down. “Bloody hell,” he hissed.
“Not in the trunk!” She opened her mouth to yell for— He stuffed a ball gag into it, then flipped her onto her stomach. The stench of brake fluid assaulted her nostrils; a lug wrench ground into her cheek. Liquid fear clutched her lower belly as Mürk secured the strap of the ball gag tight against the back of her head, then bound her wrists.
She bucked and flailed, whipping herself back over. She gnashed on her ball gag and tried to scream around it. Not in a trunk!
“Stop throwin’ a benny, you split arse.” Mürk’s gaze was tundra cold, black as the end of the world.
She sobbed in panic, her nostrils pinching and releasing, pinching and releasing. She couldn’t breathe! She kicked her legs up.
“You keep givin’ me trouble, ducky, and I’ll sock you in the turnip so many times you’ll never find your way back from ugly, savvy?” His voice was deep and dark like first generation Hell, but also incongruously laced with that touch of British culture. He braced a hand on the open lid of the trunk, his Guns & Roses T-shirt hiking up to reveal a peek of gnarled scar on his belly. Somebody had tried to gut this maniac jerk? Shocking!
The trunk lid started to come down…
She shook her head wildly at him, trying to scream again, her chest and throat tightening.
He slammed the lid shut, interring her in black. She thrashed her head from side to side, her heartbeat erratic, her eyes bugging and rolling as she tried to see anything…anything...
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracy is the award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning genres across paranormal (The Community series), military suspense (The Wings of Gold series), and Historical (The Baron’s War trilogy). During nearly twenty-five years spent as a military wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community, first in Rome then in Madrid, until she settled back in San Diego. Tracy holds a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, and has used this background to create a fan-based website called The Character Couch, where romance’s favorite couples are brought into a fun session with therapist, Regan Malloy. Her debut paranormal novel, THE BLOODLINE WAR, is a Bronze Medal winner for romance of the prestigious Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY).