Tuesday, September 15, 2015

CURSED - Book 8 - Sneak Preview


Book 8 in

The Crush Saga


Chrissy Peebles

Copyright © 2015 by Chrissy Peebles

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

The Crush Saga Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/4eMF8KXEUc4

 Chapter 1

The sunlight faded fast, casting a purple haze on the jagged black mountains that surrounded the troops.
I shrugged my shoulders under the light metal battle armor; the king had insisted that I wear it. I chewed my lip nervously, wondering how it was all going to play out. Alexios knew the enemy well, but he’d shared little with me. Beyond what Dylan had shown me at The Sapphire Academy of Magic, and what I’d already seen in Big Bear Lake, I had no idea what the fey even looked like, at least not the ones we’d be fighting. I had no idea what we were up against, and that only made it all the more frightening.
“How do we kill them?” a servant girl next to me asked.
“I know a few ways,” I said.
The guard next to me shook his head. “You won’t be fighting, Taylor. You’re just here for show, to give the people something to believe in.”
“If I’m here, I’m fighting. I have amazing powers.”
“Yes, I heard what you did in France,” another hunter said.
“Then you know I can be a great asset to this cause.”
“Races from all over the world have joined us. It isn’t necessary to risk our queen’s life.”
“But I can do so much more,” I said. “Please let me join the fight.”
“It’s time for our queen to speak,” another said, touching my arm softly and gently leading me away.
I stopped. “What’s going on?”
“We need you to speak to the people, and then I have orders to escort you back to the castle before the battle starts.”
 As we walked up the mountain, I turned to look at the soldier. “This is crazy.”
“I suppose it does seem odd,” he said.
“What happened to the girl who was sunbathing on the beach at Big Bear Lake, talking about her upcoming school year? That na├»ve girl who jumped from the cliffs, listened to music, and swam at the swimming hole?”
“I believe that ship has long sailed, Highness,” my escort said.
“So much has happened. I’ve…lost my innocence.”
“You’ve gained experience, and now you can encourage our troops,” he said.
I was led up a large hill. At the top, I glanced down upon thousands of vampires, werewolves, and witches, hordes of them stretching as far as my eye could see. My hands began to tremble, as I wasn’t used to being in front of such a large crowd, particularly when a great majority of the eyes looking back at me weren’t even human. I had spoken at charity events and parties and a few lectures Alexios had planned, but this was different. There were thousands upon thousands, a sea of beings, all waiting for me to say something.
“And now, here is our queen!” Alexios announced, guiding me over and kissing me on the cheek.
My nerves began to get the best of me, and a kiss from him certainly didn’t help. Instantly, I froze, and it was as if I’d swallowed an entire cantaloupe and couldn’t possibly squeeze a single word out around it.
“Just speak from your heart, the way you always do,” Alexios said. “Tell them that you’re on their side and that we will conquer our enemies. Leave them with no doubts.”
I looked out at the crowd before me, an odd mixture of vampires, wolves, and witches, united as one because of all the hard work Alexios and I had put into trying to bring everyone together against the threat. They all listened to me because I was a hybrid, and I harbored within me a little piece of them all. Maybe being a mutt has some purpose after all, I mused as I mustered up the courage to speak to them.
“Hello, everyone,” I nervously began, my half-chewed bottom lip trembling ferociously. “For so long, our races have been divided, and now the fey have stormed in to try to take over, but we mustn’t let that happen. You stand before me now, a supernatural army, united and strong. As your queen, I am part of all of you. I am werewolf, vampire, and witch. You are all special, and I am honored to carry a part of that within me. We are supernatural beings, all fighting for one sole purpose, and that is to win, to survive. We cannot stand by and idly tolerate injustice. I say we show ‘em what happens when a bunch of supernatural beings unite and band together!”
A cheer began to ripple through the crowd, coupled with howls and even a few disturbing whistles that sounded more like hisses. For a moment, I thought I even heard a few barks.
“We must set aside our differences, our grudges. Save your anger for those freaks who want to destroy us and take over our world. It’s our destiny to live and to make the most of our lives. Let’s work together and take back our world! United we stand! As separate tribes, we will never defeat them, but if we combine into one brilliant military force, we can come out victorious over our common enemy. Let’s not live in enmity for one more day, even one more hour, one more minute. Right now, turn to your neighbor and tell that person, ‘I’m here for a reason, and I will fight for what I believe in. If there has been a rift between us, I forgive you, and I hope you’ll forgive me. We must unite and work together, and we will fight and take our world back!’ Life is short, people, and no one has the right to tell us how to live it. We will fight and give it all we’ve got in every battle, and we will ultimately win the war!”
Suddenly, the whole meadow was alive with applause and cheering, and creatures and people of every kind began shaking hands and embracing one another.
“Thanks for listening to me today,” I said. “I consider you my brothers and sisters in this world, and I want you to know that I’ll never, ever give up until justice is served and we get our world back! You have my word on that, and I hope I have your word as well.”
More clapping, screaming, whistling, cheering, barking, snarling, and growling ensued, and I basked in the uplifting inspiration of one of the most glorious moments in all my life.
“You did it,” Alexios said, lifting my arm high in the air and smiling at me, as if I’d just won some world-champion boxing match. Everyone cheered even louder when he enthusiastically shouted, “United we stand!”
I was then led away, but as I gazed up at my so-called husband, I wanted nothing more than to fight. “Alexios,” I begged, trying to free myself from the grip of my escort, “please let me join this cause. You must let me fight.”
“I’m afraid that’s not going to happen,” he said.
I looked around and saw that he’d tasked an entire legion of soldiers to accompany me, surrounding me like the Secret Service would shield a hated President. I knew I could never take on so many. “I can’t let our people fight without me,” I muttered, shaking my head.
A hunter overheard me and shook his head. “You will not fight today, Highness. You are a queen, not a warrior, and my instructions are to get you safely back to the castle.”
A blonde woman rushed through the crowd. When she screamed my name, I immediately recognized her voice, and I commanded the guards to let me see her.
“Taylor!” she shouted, pushing through the soldiers to reach me.
“Oh my gosh! You’re here.”
“Since the fey are here and attacking, Alexios let every supernatural being into his kingdom so we can all stand united and fight.”
“Good. I’m so glad you’re here. Alexios has been awful to me.”
“And you stayed here?”
“I had too. I was the spokesperson for the war. People came together because of me and my hybrid status. If the supernatural races had remained divided, we wouldn’t stand a chance of winning this war.”
“You’re selfless, Taylor.”
“We can’t let the fey take over this world.”
“Of course not.”  
 “What kind of a fashion statement is that?” I asked, looking at her chainmail. I knew the armor was more symbolic, since she was part witch and werewolf.
“Alexios made us wear it. Do I look ridiculous?”
“Um…a little.”
She hugged me. “We’re all here to back you up. When we found out the fey are here, we all dropped what we were doing and came right away.”
“Where’s the rest of the gang?”
“Grant’s with Jesse and Tabby. Dylan’s running around here somewhere, in tiger form. I saw Violet, and Cindy and Fred took off with Drake and Ivan.”
“They won’t let me fight,” I said.
“Why not?”
“I guess they think their good queen might break a nail.” I looked around at my entourage. “I can’t stand it, but I’ve got an idea.”
“Hmm. That’s usually scary.”
I grinned and concentrated, ready to try that trick Dylan taught me in the woods, hoping I could summon the orb that would lift me high in the air. I pulled my friend into another embrace. I wasn’t sure if it would work with me holding Julie, but I didn’t really have much to lose. Electricity flooded over both of us. It didn’t hurt; it just felt like a small electric shock. Together, we turned into a ball of light and darted into the sky, hovering above the small army that had been guarding me.  
“Come back!” one of the hunters shouted.
We glided high over the towering tree line, stunning the guards with our getaway. Furious, and probably worried that Alexios would have their heads for letting me slip away, they chased us until we were out of sight.
We floated for a while and found a seemingly safe place to touch down. Unfortunately, landings weren’t my specialty, and as we started to descend, I began to lose control. At an insane speed, we lost altitude, hurtling toward the grass.  
“Are you okay?” Julie asked, noticing that I was rubbing my head.  
I massaged my pounding temples. “Yeah, I’ll live. How about you?”
She brushed herself off. “Hey, I’m breathing. The important thing is that we got you away."
“Sorry. I guess I need more flying lessons.”
“It’s fine, but how did you manage, carrying me?” Julie asked.
“I wasn’t sure if it would work, but I figured it was worth a try.”
“I couldn’t talk up there, but I could see everything. It was freaking amazing, Taylor!”
“I know. In time, I hope to master it…including the landing.”
“So? Are you ready to fight?” Julie asked.
“Yup. I say we show the fey who’s the boss around here.”
Ready to fight, we walked into the army and prepared ourselves.
“Won’t Alexios send more guards to find you?” Julie asked. “He seems to be on quite the power trip.”
“They’ll never find us,” I said. “We blend in like everyone else. Besides, they’ll be too busy trying to save their own butts.”
About an hour later, Julie was beginning to grow impatient. “How much longer?” she whispered, yawning.
“I’ve got no idea, Julie,” I said and then immediately grimaced. I knew I was being too sassy and snippy with my best friend, especially after being apart from her for so long. It was the building pressure of the battle ahead, especially with all those unanswered questions. What will the fey look like? How will they fight? I wished we knew more, because I didn’t like going into combat so blind. I wasn’t even sure if I should be in the fight at all, since I hadn’t been properly trained, but I knew that mine and Julie’s powers would come in handy. “We’ve just gotta wait it out,” I said. “If the fey take over this world, ours will be next.”  
“I wonder where the king is.” Julie stretched her neck and gripped the hilt of the small dagger at her side.
“Somewhere on the other side maybe. I really couldn’t care less,” I snapped. “I just want him to stay out of my way.”
“Not exactly wedded bliss, huh?” Julie asked.
“More like a nuptial nightmare. That slime-ball tried to keep me caged in his castle like some kind of porcelain doll. I want to fight for our people, to take out this threat before they destroy both our worlds. We can’t let the fey gain a foothold. If they do, nothing in either world will ever be the same again.”
“But Alexios wants to destroy the fey too, Taylor.”
“Yes, I know, but he’s got other problems, starting with the fact that he’s a royal pain in my royal—”
“Hey, now!” Julie said, smirking and cutting me off. “No disrespect to his Royal Highness,” she said, giggling.
Suddenly, a young man with brawny shoulders stopped in front of us and saluted. The look of brute strength said he was a werewolf, though he definitely wasn’t part of the pack from Big Bear Lake. A few seconds later, a warlock brought some horses to us. We talked for a few minutes about the impending battle, then hopped on; fortunately, they didn’t seem to recognize us in our armor or by our voices, so they didn’t tattle to Alexios.
I grabbed the reins and led my horse closer to the action, with Julie in tow.  
“My queen?” a soldier began.
I gritted my teeth at the title and said nothing.
“Aren’t you supposed to be safe inside the castle?”
“I’m here to fight, just like you.”
“A true warrior,” he said, smiling appreciatively. “We can use all those we can get, Highness.”
I wasn’t expecting that; I was sure he’d try to haul me off to the castle. I let out a long breath. “Thank you. Can you tell me what’s going on?”
 “The scouts have spotted the first of the enemy. They’re about five minutes away.”
“Five minutes?” I repeated, then swallowed hard. “Thank you,” I said, but the werewolf was already gone.
“Queen,” Julie commented, shaking her head. “I still have to get used to that.”
“Don’t start, Jules,” I replied, giving her a playful roll of my eyes.
I couldn’t keep the nerves at bay any longer, and thoughts of Jesse clouded my mind as well. I studied the field between the massive black mountains, hoping to put my mind at ease. I didn’t have to actively command any troops, but I was sure knowing the layout of the land would help me in battle anyway. We had to use every advantage, even know the terrain, for the existence of all immortals hung in the balance.
Witches stood in rows at the back of the massive force, waiting patiently, with their arms folded and engaging in leisurely discussions about what was to come. They were our most powerful close-range fighters, so keeping them safe was the main priority. I grinned at the thought: Get close enough to a witch, you nasty fey, and they’ll incinerate you on the spot as soon as look at you.
Beyond that were battalions of vampires, pale and regal in their black, form-fitting armor. They came from every coven in the country, tall and silent, their eyes blazing with focus, and they breathed power and looked as menacing as they were.  
Amongst them were small battalions of werewolves, not transformed yet. The fighters were ready, flexing their muscles and baring their teeth, but they didn’t bother with armor, as they didn’t need it. All they had to do was turn, and they would be a force to be reckoned with, with all the fury of nature at their beck and call.  
“Two minutes,” Julie commented, shifting her chainmail to stretch her legs and arms.
“Are you ready?” I asked, staring out across the shifting mass of fighters.
“Ready as I’ll ever be,” Julie said with a growl, raising her hand and twiddling her fingers. A flame sparked between them, and she made it dance from one fingertip to the other, until it reached her thumb. When she clicked her fingers, it disappeared.
A glint of metal caught my eye amidst the torches some of the troops were holding. I searched for it, then frowned hard when I realized its source.
Alexios sat atop a silvery white horse. The helmet on his head was glistening in the sun, the top of it shaped like a crown. So arrogant, even in battle, I thought. He was flanked by special fighters, strange creatures masked by their armor. A few were hunched over; I assumed they might be very ancient vampires, but I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t believe the man atop that mighty steed was my husband, and I couldn’t wait for the marriage to be over.
“Here they come,” Julie murmured.
A slow roar spread through the ranks, rippling backward. Even the witches were noisy, and I joined in, yelling in defiance. The fey spread out over the cliffs, and I squinted up at them, using my advanced eyesight to pick them out. They had wings; that much I could tell, but their other features were masked in the fading light.
“They’re so creepy,” Julie shouted over the racket, “with wings and everything!”
“Charge!” I roared, raising my hands into the sky, hoping my special petal witch heritage would not fail me.
A lightning bolt shot out of me, and the first line of creatures burst into flames. The troops screamed for victory, and even though they hadn’t transformed yet, the werewolves howled at the sky.  
“Show off,” Julie said, then threw her own lightning bolt, a powerful one that took out the next two lines of creatures flying in our direction.
Alexios glared at me from across the battlefield, but I ignored it. He didn’t look happy about me being out there, but he didn’t try to have me put on house arrest either. The battle was on, well underway, and his selfish expectations weren’t my problem.
I paced from side to side, and my horse, Clara Belle, whinnied nearby. She wasn’t a fan of the werewolf in me, but I pushed her forward anyway.
The fey roiled on the hill, and the humming of beating wings filled the air in the silence between the army’s might roars.
“What are they waiting for?” I mumbled.
“Maybe they’re looking for a gap in our defenses,” Julie wisely surmised.
The last sliver of orange sunlight disappeared over the top of the mountain, and like a million bats leaving their cave for the night, the fey swept down the hillside. The flying creatures looked different from the ones Julie and I had just torched with our volts, and the fact that they had waited till sunset to come at us was not lost on me.  
“They don’t like the light!” I screamed. “Light the torches, everything you have! Make a bonfire if you can.”
The order was relayed to the back line of the witches, and they immediately shot handfuls of flames into the air. Unfortunately, they fizzled out quickly, casting only a quick flare of light on the approaching troops.
Julie created a massive, swirling ball of yellow energy. “Let’s see how they like a fake sun,” she said, fixing the giant sphere of light above the flying creatures.
The fey didn’t shriek or retreat, but they slowed before they reached the penumbra on the ground, then landed on the grass in a great scuffle.
“Darn. I guess the light doesn’t bother them,” I said.
“It was a good try,” Julie said.
I ducked as energy volts and arrows sped past me. A fey held up its hand, and the weapons stopped in midair. A single creature stepped forward from the bunch.
“Hold your fire!” Alexios boomed across the distance.
The troops fell silent.
“What does it want?” I whispered in the sudden quiet.
The creature stopped just outside the circle of light, then pushed her face in close and pressed it to the nearest vampire’s. She was horrific to behold: a gaping maw of a mouth, with two rows of sharp teeth, pointed ears, and long brown hair parted past them. I shuddered at the sight of her; she was like some horrific monster out of a twisted fairytale, with black claws and drool dripping from her chin. Black wings unfurled at her shoulders, and she flapped them languidly, gazing at the vampire before her.
“I am Dierdru,” the fey said, speaking in a high whine that made me wince. “Do you lead?”
The question was asked of the tall male vampire, but he didn’t reply.
As menacing as she looked, the fey was small, the size of a child, and she hovered in the air for a moment, then landed and punched the silent vampire in the stomach.
Still, the vampire didn’t move, didn’t even flinch.  
“I am Dierdru,” the fey repeated. “Do you lead this rabble?” The creature poked the vampire again, and one of the werewolves released a growl from deep within his throat. The fey cocked her head like and eagle and focused on the werewolf instead. “Or is it you?” Then, before the werewolf could answer, the fey took to the air and climbed slowly into the light. “I am Dierdru!”
The shriek pierced the night, and a few of the witches began to stir nervously. Clara Belle whinnied and reared up on her hind legs.
The creature looked down on the troops again. “Who leads this army?” Dierdru’s voice echoed off the sharp rocks, rebounding and growing in intensity.
I started to step forward, but Julie caught my arm and shook her head. “No, Taylor. Don’t.”
“I’m gonna tell her where to go, back to the Hell she came from.”
“Watch instead,” she whispered.
Frustration built up inside me, spreading to my extremities. Why should I watch and do nothing? Am I not the queen of the immortals? It wasn’t that I particularly enjoyed the title, but it wasn’t with in me to stand idly by.
“Who leads this army?” the creature asked.
“I am king of the immortals,” Alexios boomed, directing his own horse to move forward.
The hunched-over guards walked with him, vigilantly keeping watch over their master.
“I lead this army.”
Dierdru glared at my husband for a long while, as if considering what she should say. Finally, she screeched out, “I am the leader of the fey. Surrender now, or you all will be destroyed. We will paint every blade of grass with your blood!”
“We will fight you, cursed ones!” Alexios shouted. “You will not so easily defeat us and take our world. We are all prepared to fight to the death.”
“Then so be it!” the fey scowled. She turned and flitted back to her frightening companions. “If you fight, it will be to the death!” she screamed, but then she began uttering words in some garbled language that none of us could possibly understand.
The noise of her incoherent babbling increased as the other fey joined her, becoming an unbearable litany. They had a ground army and a flying one, and I could smell their foul stench from a mile away. They were fearless, soulless, emotionless, and ominous, and I gulped hard as the two armies grew closer.
“Attack!” Alexios yelled.
With a loud bam, the two armies collided. The old-timer vampires swung hammers and axes, while modern-day ones acted like snipers, cleverly hidden high in the cliffs and raining down their assault from above. The witches thrust their arms in the air, and light burst from their fingertips, hitting the ground and some of the adversaries in a series of violent explosions. Enemy fey flew everywhere, in a burst of green flames. The werewolves tore into battle, and Alexios’s hunters bravely charged forward.
Fey fell, some hit by fire or electricity and others pierced by arrows.
The witches shot fireballs into the ranks of tittering fey. When the fireballs found their marks, the fey seemed to erupt, sending chunks of flesh in every direction and spreading the stench of burnt meat through the air. I choked and moved with Julie, seeking higher ground. The fey swept forward, howling revenge for the fresh deaths.
Fire, ice, lightning, and all kinds of magical energy flew across the battlefield in a glorious display of colors as the witches united to take down the fey.
 The battle raged on as razor-sharp fangs and claws ripped into the skin of the enemy, but the fey were not quick to give up. Rather than retreating, they called in reinforcements.
I gasped as enormous shadows darkened everything around us and flapping, mighty wings came into view. “Dragons!” I screamed. “They’ve got dragons!”  
The creatures roared through the shrieks and cries of battle, striking with sharp talons and long teeth. They dived and twisted through the sky like stealth bombers, looking to score a mark, hoping to slam their huge bodies into groups of vamps or wolves. Their eyes burned red with scorn and hatred and violence as they rained down like terror from the skies.
One slammed into a group of vampires to my left, throwing the vampires violently into the air like shrapnel. The dragon let out an ear-splitting shriek and attacked, turning its massive body toward anyone who ran and instantly destroying them with streams of flesh-melting fire.
Finally, one brave vampire took a stand, slashing away at the vile creature’s monstrous wings. When I saw that it was Drake, I was surprised at how valiantly he fought.
The fey fighting on the ground began to part and thin as we took them down. I invoked lightning from the heavens. Julie held my hand and we merged our power, and pure white light flashed in the night sky. Visible flashes of distant bolts started to appear, and massive flashes of yellow lightning grew stronger. The wind blew our hair around as streaks of lightning illuminated the black sky in pale blue and yellow flashes, followed by red ones. Our power grew stronger, almost out of control. It was something stronger than petal magic; I knew that much. It flooded through me, and I seemed powerless to stop it. Bolts of lightning struck the great beasts, and as they fell, their shrieks and death cries made me jump. I let go of Julie’s hand and broke the connection, and the lightning disappeared. When our enemies pinpointed where the fatal lightning was coming from, they set their sights on us and launched an attack.  
Like a torrential downpour, a hail of arrows flew at us. I extended my force-field to protect as many as I could. Javelins and spears kept bouncing off it with loud bangs. More arrows whizzed past, swords flashed, fires blazed from the dragons, and a horse reared up next to me. The dragon creatures spewed more blazing flames, and we fought hard against our flying opponents. A barrage of arrows was launched, but the angry beasts retaliated by blowing out long streams of fire that incinerated the arrows like marshmallows on a campfire.
Shrieking, others dived through the clouds, making a quick descent to pounce on their foes, ripping into them with sharp claws and teeth. In seconds, they demolished rows of vampires. A stream of fire barely missed me, but with my quick reflexes, I jumped out of the way, leaving only grass, dirt, and rocks to be scorched where I’d just stood. Plumes of smoke billowed into the air, and fire sizzled in small patches in the grass. The entire scene was chaos.
When a group of snapping fey flew too close, Violet lifted her hands, and a flash of blue light enveloped her. When she blinked, the light spread out and surrounded the fey, suddenly paralyzing them; with their wings frozen, they dropped to the ground. Violet began a fireworks show of her own, shooting all kinds of dazzling colors and explosions with her hands as the next group came to assault us.
When a fey approached Dylan in his human form, his hands suddenly turned into giant claws, and he made quick work of tearing into the foe. I was amazed that he could remain human but still summon up his tiger claws when he needed them. Truly, as immortal as I was, the supernatural world still never ceased to amaze me.  
When Violet was slashed by the claw of a fey flying by her, she held her bleeding neck, then passed out.
“Violet!” I shouted, running over to her.
A vampire frantically looked up at me. “We need to generate heat somehow, cauterize her wound to stop the bleeding. Can you do that?”
“I can heal her,” I said.
“Witches can’t heal.”
“Petal witches can.” I placed my hands on her neck, and a light began to glow. I concentrated, trying to do it the way Tabby had shown me so I wouldn’t sap all my strength.
Violet’s eyes fluttered open, and she looked up at me.  
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“I’m fine,” she said, scrambling to her feet. “Thank you, Taylor!”

“More incoming fey!” another werewolf shouted.

End of sample. 

Link to Cursed for pre-order: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013IT9VMW

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sneak Peek book 8 of The Crush Saga

People have asked: Is there another book after Clash in The Crush Saga?

Clash was supposed to be the last book but fans have written me asking for a couple more books, not wanting the series to end. So after much consideration, I've decided to keep the story going for a while longer than planned. I'm so excited that people love my characters and can't get enough of them. I can't either. Here is the next book after Clash.

Taylor is kidnapped by The Ice Pack due to her special heritage. She is taken into their portal world where she must join the pack...or die. She is taken to an otherworldly place that no human has ever seen. Can she survive in an ancient world where she doesn't belong?

Preorder link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013IT9VMW

Friday, May 22, 2015

Conflicted - Book 6 (Two Chapter Sneak Peek Preview)

Coming June 9th! 

Available for preorder now:



Book 6 of The Crush Saga


Chrissy Peebles

Copyright © 2015 by Chrissy Peebles
Edited by: Autumn J. Conley

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.


My brilliant editor, Autumn J. Conley. Thank you for all your hard work!

Spoiler Alert: If you haven't read before this, there are spoilers. This is book 6. 

Chapter 1

How do I describe this moment? There is only…nothing. No sensation, no pain, no dreams, no memories. There is only…darkness.
Wait! What is that? A bright light? A voice? A touch!
“I’m Dr. Rivers,” a woman said, shining a light into my eyes. “Taylor, can you hear me?”
“Yeah,” I answered. 
“Do you know where you are?”
“The immortal sanctuary?”
My stomach clenched. “My gosh. I shouldn’t be alive!”
“No, you shouldn't, but you’re a survivor. You were bitten by a vampire and a werewolf, but you're fighting like a champion.”
“Okay. She’s coming to,” a woman yelled. “Everyone take extra precautions!”
All the memories flooded back from that night. I was buried alive. Almost sacrificed. Julie and Drake had both bitten me. Halo. The millennium ceremony. Ivan and his wolf pack swearing revenge against me. Yes, it was all coming back.
I'm a hybrid!
I could hear people talking over me as I tried to force my eyes open. When I listened closer, I heard a beeping sound, the electronic chorus of monitors. My hand throbbed, but I quickly located the culprit: an IV attached to a bag of fluids on a silver pole. I tried to figure out what was going on in the haze that surrounded me, but nothing made much sense in all that craziness. I knew I was in a hospital bed with white sheets and blankets. My body felt limp as a wet rag. Everything and everyone seemed far away. Part of me wanted to fall into a deep sleep, while the other part desperately wanted to fight it. Then I heard a familiar voice that sounded like an angel right out of Heaven.
“Taylor, it’s me, Jesse. I’m here for you, baby…and so are all your friends. I’m right here,” the love of my life said, holding my hand. “You’re so strong, so brave. You’re gonna beat this thing.”
I squeezed his hand to let him know I heard him and that I was indeed going to fight for my life. I’d worked so hard to stay alive, and I wasn’t going to let some immortal virus take me out. Jesse and I still had so much to see and so much to do, so many years to love each other. We had our whole lives in front of us, and I couldn’t wait to go out there and face the world head on. I hung on to that glimmer of hope, and I wouldn’t let go. Keep fighting, that tiny voice inside me kept saying.
“You need to leave,” a male voice said. “Please let us do our job. Taylor is in good hands.”
“What? Are you nuts? You can’t expect me to just leave her,” Jesse argued. “Please. I need to be here. She needs me.”
My eyes fluttered open.
“Taylor?” Cindy’s voice called. “I don’t know what to say, but I care about you. I know it’s difficult, but we’re here for you.”
 “You let her in here?” an agitated voice whispered. “She’s a gargoyle, very, very dangerous. Don’t you remember what happened the last time we let a gargoyle in here 100 years ago?”
“This is a sanctuary,” a voice whispered back. “We accept everyone.”
“But she hasn’t been through decontamination! You’re breaking the rules. They all have to go through it before being allowed in for a transformation.”
“Her body is going through an immortal process. Germs don’t matter right now. All that matters is that she knows her friends are rallying for her, giving her the encouragement she needs to fight for her life, inspiring her will to survive.”
“I want her out now!” he said.
Cindy looked at him, and his eyes widened in fear.
“Did you see that? She’s flashing me those gargoyle eyes of hers,” the guy said, terrified.
“You act like you’ve never seen glowing eyes before,” I said. “Isn’t this is a place for supernatural creatures?”
“Those were threatening eyes,” he roared, “like she might devour me in one gulp. I can’t work in a place where I don’t feel safe. She has to go…or else I will!”  
Julie turned to face him. “Taylor needs us more than anything right now. She needs all her friends.”
Footsteps echoed as the man took his leave, ignoring Julie’s pleas.
“I’m here too,” Fred said. “I wish I could fix it all, Taylor, just take away your pain.”
“Grant and I are here too,” Julie assured me. “You know how much we love you, and we’re rooting for you.”
“Just hang on,” Grant said.
“I’m hangin’ in there,” I whispered.
“You’ve got those stubborn genes, just like me,” Tabby said.
I gazed up at her. “I hope so!”
She squeezed my hand in excitement. “Girl, you did it. I’m so proud of you! You stopped the petals from being sacrificed and got the witches’ power back. You even sent Halo back to Hell. You’re a true hero. I bet you’re on the front page of the immortal newspaper.”
“There’s an immortal newspaper?” I asked softly.
“Sure. It’s called The Forever Times,” Julie said, then chuckled. “She’s only kidding.”
“I need to see my mom and dad,” I whispered.
“I’m working on that,” Tabby said, “but getting them in here is a little tricky.”
“We’ll need a cover story,” Fred said.
“Or just compel them to forget,” Cindy chimed in with her French accent. “Taylor needs her parents.”
I glanced at Tabby. “What powers did you get?”
“Everyone got at least one power, but because I’m a petal, I got a few extras. You, Violet, and Julie will get them too. I can levitate stuff and move things with my mind. I have enhanced senses. I can manipulate the air and wind and lots more. It’s really amazing.”
“My power is fire,” Julie said. “I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ll learn it eventually. I can do a few other little things too.”
I looked at Violet. “And you?”
“Mainly teleportation,” she answered. “I wish my powers were as exciting as Tabby’s or Julie’s.”
“Exciting? What good is fire?” Julie asked with a chuckle. “Unless I’m camping.”
Suddenly, every part of me began to itch profusely, and I started scratching everywhere. As I did, I noticed a red, blotchy rash spreading all over my body. “Ah! I can’t stop the itch!” I said.
The doctor rushed to my side and examined the hives. “She needs Benadryl, fifty milligrams in her IV…STAT!”
“Yes, Dr. Rivers,” a nurse said.
“I need a mirror,” I said, wanting to look at my face.
Cindy handed me a compact, and I flipped it open.
“Wh-what’s happening to me?” I asked, staring at my bloodshot eyes. “I mean, I know I’m turning, but what’s causing this?”
A male nurse tried to comfort me by explaining the process. “You’re in Stage One, infection. You’ll go through fever, chills, itching, headache, and other flu-like symptoms. In Stage Two, you’ll want to sleep a lot as your metabolism slows. Your breathing will be shallow, your pupils dilated. During that time, your fangs and nails will grow.”
Another nurse touched my arm. “Your senses are sharpening, Taylor. Your sense of smell, for instance, can be 100 times sharper than a mortal’s, and you’ll hear 4 times better than any human. Your eyes are changing as well, adapting to your new wolf-vision.”
“You’ve been infected with a complicated virus,” Dr. Rivers elaborated. “It is really quite complex, so much so that it rewrites the genetic code of every nucleus in your body. Countless alterations to your biological makeup are taking place.”
They went on to explain, in great detail, the differences between a vampire and werewolf change. I caught some of it, but I kept fading in and out as they blabbed on in their supernatural medical jargon, until I finally fell asleep again.
Sometime later, I woke up. I had no idea if I’d been asleep for hours or days. I could hear voices, but none of them sounded familiar. What happened to my friends? I wondered.
“She didn’t want this,” a faint voice whispered, sounding a million miles away, “and to be bitten by two immortals is highly rare.”
“Taylor cannot outrun her destiny. No one can.”
I felt my pulse speed as a flood of thoughts and questions pounded through my brain. I thought about my destiny and wondered what my future held. Will I even live long enough to see it, or will the hybrid virus eat me alive? Am I doomed to be yet another casualty, like all those other victims who hoped to escape their fate?
Noises jolted me out of my thinking. Amongst the voices, I heard so many things: distant footsteps, a phone ringing down the hall at the nurses’ station, someone scratching their head, lips smacking, and even an ice cube melting in a diet soda—things I never should have been able to hear. For a moment, I considered that maybe I was just dreaming.
“I’ve got the preliminary test results,” a woman said.
“All right. What wolf line is she from?” another said.
“You’re not gonna believe this, but she’s from the Lycan Ice Pack.”
“What!? The ancient werewolves from the Arctic? I thought that was just a myth.”
“No, and here’s our living proof. Julie is from the same pack.”
“I want those records sealed,” the doctor said. “Nobody is to breathe a word about this to anyone. Is that understood?”
“Yes, Dr. Rivers.”
“Why?” another asked. “With all due respect, Doctor, this is an important discovery. We need to inform the others so they know how special Taylor truly is. Why hide it and seal the records?”
“Why!? Look, Taylor was bitten by the strongest, most powerful breed of werewolf that has ever existed, the ones gifted with the powers of the Danan, the ones tasked with protecting elite supernatural. Don’t you realize what that means?”
“It means they’ll snatch her up in a heartbeat. If they find Taylor or Julie, or any of the other bitten petals, they’ll sweep them away and they’ll be forced to serve as guardians. This is a sanctuary, and we can’t have that kind of invasion and kidnapping going on here. Word of this cannot go beyond these walls, so just keep your mouths shut. You’re not to speak to anyone about this.”
“Are you going to tell them?”
“No. It’s best that we say nothing. The girls will be safer—as will we all—if they remain unaware of their true identity. If they don’t know, they can’t blab, and no one will ever know they’re here.”
“What about the werewolf who originally bit Julie? Is it here? Also, why’d it bite her in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been taken as a guardian? Or is it hiding here in Big Bear Lake?”
Dr. Rivers sighed. “I don’t know, but I’ll find out. In the meantime, not another word about this to anyone. We can’t have anyone knowing we have two guardians taking harbor here in the sanctuary. And don’t forget about the other bitten petals. The Ice Pack will come and retrieve them all. Right now, silence is our best friend.”  
“You know I won’t say anything, but Dr. Michaels ordered the test, and he’ll demand answers.”
“Don’t worry about that. I’ll rig up some results for him, as I’ve got unlimited access to the lab computer. This girl is beyond special, and we have to keep her safe. She has Drake’s elite, royal bloodline in her, as well as Lycan Ice Pack blood, and she’s a tenth-generation petal witch/doppelganger.”
“Wow. That’s some combination. That should help her beat this virus though, right?”
“Let’s hope so.”
My eyes fluttered shut, and I drifted off into sleep, without them realizing I’d heard a word they’d said. 
Chapter 2

My dreams were hectic and chaotic and quickly morphed into dark, twisted nightmares. I woke up screaming in agony and went straight into a panic, thrashing and flailing as I was held down against my will. I let out a long growl and viciously fought against my attackers.  
“How much valium are we giving her?” a man asked.
“Ten milligrams.”
Maurice shot me a wicked smile. “We should euthanize the wolf, put her out of her misery!”
“No!” I shouted.
He held up a gold dagger. “You were born to die. Fate has always wanted this. Only the strong survive, and you are far too pathetic. Just let go, Taylor. It’ll all be over soon.”
“No! I won’t give up without a fight. I’ll kill you first! You tried to kill me before and failed, so you tell me who the pathetic one is! How’d you ever get the job as head witch anyway?”
Suddenly, the witch from my dreams appeared before me.
“You!” I said, letting out an audible gasp.
“I tried to tell you of your destiny, that you are to be a hybrid, but you didn’t believe me. Maybe death is the only way out of all this.”
I gasped, realizing my worst fears had come true. “You all want me dead! You and Maurice and everyone else!” I shouted at her.
“We all want you dead, newborn werewolf and baby vampire.”
My hands wrapped around her throat. “I’ll never go that easily. I’ll take you all with me!”
“Sh-she’s h-hallucinating!” a woman screamed, unwrapping my hands from around her neck and choking on her words.
“Taylor, come back to us!” the familiar’s doctor’s voice rang. “Maurice is not here.”
I blinked and realized the doctor was right. Everything seemed fuzzy, and I had a headache from hell, like seventeen sumo wrestlers were tap-dancing on my cranium. My heart pounded, and my muscles ached something fierce.
“She’s going into shock!” a woman said.
“Embrace the pain,” the doctor coached. “Fighting it will only make it worse, put more stress on your body. Just ride it out, Taylor.”  
I was groggy and disoriented, and I felt like I’d been run over by a truck after running a long marathon. I was gasping for breath, and my insides ached something fierce. “Wh-what’s happening?” I stuttered.
“The werewolf is taking over. Do you remember what we talked about? This transition will be different than a vampire’s. You’ll feel more agitated, aggressive. You’ll be prone to unprovoked rage, anger, insomnia, and restlessness in this first phase. It will pass but it won’t be easy.”
I growled, wanting to attack and lash out at her. I’d never been so angry in all my life, and I was sure that if she didn’t shut up, I was going to rip her to shreds. I hated feeling like that, because it wasn’t like me at all. It was as if something sinister had possessed me, some violent demon. Deep down inside, I felt a strong urge to rip off my clothes and run through the forest, howling like the cursed monster and mythical creature I was destined to become.  
“We’ve got gold eyes, and she’s exhibiting canine behavior, Doctor,” a woman said, shining a penlight in my eyes, just about blinding me. “She’ll soon emerge in full lycanthrope form.”
“Do you want to live, Taylor?” Dr. Rivers asked me.
“Yes!” I snapped, seething. “What kind of stupid question is that? Of course I wanna live…more than anything!”
“Then act like it. Fight this! Times are tough, but you’ve gotta be tougher. We already warned you that this transition isn’t going to be pretty. Your energy will spike, then crash. You’ll be on an emotional rollercoaster, and the pain associated with becoming a vampire will take its toll. I know it can be downright ugly and scary, but you’ve got to fight through transition, or you’ll die in the process.”
“Okay, but this anger is just… It’s just too much, Doctor. I feel like I wanna punch a wall as hard as I can.”
“That’s the werewolf rage setting in, but there’ll be no left hooks for you, to a wall or otherwise. You have to learn to channel the anger.”
“But I can’t!” I screeched, wanting to channel an uppercut to her face instead.
“You can…and you must, Taylor.”
“Isn’t there any other way?” I asked.
“No. I’m sorry, but there isn’t.”
“How did you survive the petal curse?” someone else asked, having the audacity to touch me.
I thought about that long and hard for a moment. “I believed I could, so I did.”
She smiled. “That you did. Now, you only have to do the same, and I know you can do it.”
“But all this anger, this wrath or something! It’s just…bubbling up inside me, like hot lava,” I said, gripping the sheets and knotting my hands up in them. “I wanna pound something so bad!”
“There will be no pounding today.”
“Then let me break through one!”
“You’re not the Incredible Hulk, and I won’t have my sanctuary destroyed like that.”
I looked around me, furious, and pointed at a recording device. “In that case, I highly suggest you turn off that videocamera!” I ordered. “I never said you could make a stupid reality show outta this!” I snapped.
The woman with the camera ignored me and continued recording, and another kept jotting down notes on a big yellow legal pad, in shorthand, which only ignited me more.
Suddenly, a man hovered over me and lifted my eyelids with his fingers, then peered right into my eyes. “The werewolf symptoms aren’t letting up. I’m afraid she’ll have to be…subdued.”
Suddenly, claws extended from my fingers, and I reached for him and let out a growl that even scared me. I’d always liked getting my nails done, but this was no French manicure, and I looked at my own hands in horror.
“Restrain her!” a man shouted. “Her feral instincts are kicking in!”
“She can’t control it,” someone else said in a panic. “She’ll have the strength of a dozen humans!”
“No,” a woman said, struggling to hold me down. “She won’t hurt us.”
“You don’t know that!”
“She’s just a little freaked out right now,” a kind voice said. “Tying her up will just make it worse. She’ll only get angrier.”
I threw the two men off me as if they were paper dolls. My human voice melted into a strained, scratchy series of growls, grunts, and hisses, and I began to foam at the mouth, as if I had rabies. I felt rabid, crazed, aggressive, and out of control. More adrenaline pumped through me than ever before, and my muscles rippled and thickened beneath my skin. This is a real bitch, I mused, though I was in far too much distress to even smile at my own pun.
“Restrain her!” a man yelled to the doctor.
“Not yet,” Dr. Rivers said. “Just give her time.”
“Time? If this gets any worse, time is one thing none of us will have. Somebody’s gonna get their head ripped off!”
The doctor shook her head. “We’ll only tranquilize or restrain her as a last resort. For now, just keep your distance.”
My body shook, and my chest felt so tight. I gritted my teeth and stared down at the backs of my hands, only to discover white hairs push through my skin. The button of my jeans snapped off and flew across the room, then landed on the linoleum floor, and my clothes began to rip under the pressure of my swelling form. I stood on the bed, contemplating my next move. When all the eyes in the room widened in terror, I knew they feared for their lives; because of me, they didn’t know whether to freeze or run. Part of me felt bad about that, but the more powerful part really didn’t care.  
I felt myself changing and helplessly tried to fight it as my muscles rippled beneath my skin and more fur began to sprout from me. My gums tingled, and I felt my canine teeth grow into fangs as my jaw suddenly lengthened. “No!” I screamed as my fingers lengthened and my arms and legs stretched right before my very own eyes. “What’s happening?” I shouted. “Julie changed so quick! Is this normal?”
“It’s your first time,” a nurse gently said. “The change will be slow.”  
With my clawed hands, I reached up to feel my ears as they merged while the metamorphosis continued. Either there was no pain or the extra adrenaline compensated for it. New ears formed on top of my head, in a mess of white fur. I hunched over as my spine contorted and twisted into an unnatural shape, stretching out and elongating my upper body. As I stretched and jerked, my body burned, and my entire body was instantly covered with plush white fur. I felt a burning sensation, but the pain was minimal and nothing I couldn’t handle. It really all happened over a time span of a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity. I desperately wanted to stop it, but I was helpless to. My muscles longed to be free, and the transformation was going to happen, whether I liked it or not.
Suddenly, a powerful surge ripped through me, from my head all the way down to my toes. My muscles stretched, my skin ripped, and my bones lengthened. Scared to death, I let out a long scream. I began to drool and any attempt at speech was reduced to guttural sounds. I dropped down on all fours and saw that all my nails on my fingers and toes had extended into two-inch talons, sharp as steel. My body finished morphing into a wolf in a glorious flash of light. I snapped my jaws and looked around at the group surrounding me, then let out a deafening growl. Everything within me and outside of me seemed to vibrate with an energy I couldn’t comprehend or understand.
I bared my fangs, and a few of the doctors and nurses stepped back in fear, which was entirely understandable. I was bubbling over with rage and bloodlust, but at the same time, I felt more charged up than ever.
Suddenly, my vision sharpened. I gazed at all the warm-blooded creatures around me and saw them in a different light, as if I’d slipped on a pair of thermal-imaging goggles. I had infrared vision, and I wondered if I would keep it when I was not in a state of bloodlust.
As my shape-shifting was coming to an end, a man burst into the room. “We’ve got problems! Werewolves have breached the perimeter!”
“What!?” Dr. Rivers yelled.
“Send everything we got after them!” a woman commanded.
“You know what they’re here for. They’re out for blood, for revenge. They want Taylor, and I don’t think they’re gonna give up very easily.”
“Well, that’s too bad. We’re not about to hand her over,” the doctor said. “Triple security and keep them at bay. This is a sanctuary, and sometimes you have to stir up a little war to keep the peace.”
“We’ll do more than that,” the man said. “I elicited Drake’s help.”
“Seriously?” a woman said, then frowned.
“He’s the most powerful thing we’ve got around here. He volunteered to help, and we took him up on it. Unless you wanna see everyone here slaughtered before nightfall, we’ve got to take him on as an ally.”
“Why’d he volunteer?” the skeptical woman asked. “He’s never helped us before.”
“His blood flows through Taylor, and that makes her part of his coven.”
“It most certainly does not!” the doctor snapped. “Drake has no claim on Taylor.”
“Legally, he does have a stake in her.”
“I’d like to shove a stake in him,” she said, sighing and shaking her head. “I don’t care what he tells you. She’s a werewolf now, too, and that changes all the rules.”
“She’s got no pack to claim her, so by supernatural protocol, she’s to go right back to Drake. He’d win that case in any immortal court.”
“You don’t have to educate me on how the supernatural world works. I know the rules, but she is not property. Use Drake to fight off the wolves if you have to, but I’ll get the witches to claim Taylor before I ever let Drake take her away.”
“But she hates the witches!”
“They’re a whole lot better than Drake.”
“Wait, Doctor,” the woman chimed in. “Maybe he’s right. If we give Taylor to Drake, it will put us in his good favor. She’ll want to make her sire happy because of the sire bond. Besides, you know he’ll take good care of her. She’ll be safe with him.”
“What!? Have you all gone insane? Taylor is warm, kind, caring, and everything Drake’s not. That sire bond means nothing when she has wolf and petal blood in her too.” 
“Drake will protect us for now,” someone else said, “but what if their moon princess gets involved? We’ll be in real trouble then.”
“If that happens, we’ll have to move her to a safe house…and as far away from Drake as possible.”

Before they could bicker about it any further, the lights went out, and the entire room erupted in a loud mess of screams and chaos. I knew the wolves were coming for me, because I could sense it deep down inside, and as brave and angry as I felt in my new form, I was also scared to death.  

End of Sample.

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