top of page
NocturnalAlchemyBanner.png
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook


Supernatural meets Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

✅ Latinx Characters

✅ Suspenseful Paranormal Romance

✅ Comedic Relief

✅ Zombie Dystopia

✅ Dark Fantasy

✅ Love Triangle



Blurb

He’s the hunter. She’s the prey. Neither of them expected love…


Gabriel is lucky to still be alive. Stalking a pretty young woman for his next meal, the clever vampire is frustrated when a pair of hunters not only rescue her but nearly kills him in the process. So when he notices one of them has developed a crush on the girl, Gabriel hatches the perfect plan for revenge.


Amelia Vallez doesn’t believe in monsters. But she can tell the handsome man who rescued her is hiding something. And when she’s saved a second time by a genuine vampire, the science-minded high school senior is suddenly terrified of all the things that shouldn’t be real.

Although he’d planned to use the naïve girl to destroy his hated foe, Gabriel is alarmed to be actually falling for her. And while Amelia should be afraid of the charming bloodsucker, he’s the only one willing to give her the answers her would-be boyfriend will not.


Is this odd couple fated to be together, or will Gabriel’s machinations tear them apart forever?


The Dawn of Darkness is the thrilling first book in the Dawn of Darkness paranormal romance series. If you like brooding men, damsels in distress, and complex love triangles, then you’ll adore K.E. Radke’s compelling tale.


 

CHAPTER ONE

The Dawn of Darkness by K. E. Radke

 

GABRIEL


Patience is the only virtue I have left. A required quality for an immortal. Otherwise, it would have rotted away along with my soul.

Shadows from the building ahead fall over the young woman as she continues past the alley. Slowing her pace, she rummages for a ringing phone lost in the purse on her shoulder, conveniently making my job easier.

On Sunshine Boulevard, the Miami tourists are too busy relaxing to notice her walking alone. The sun is gone, leaving behind a bruised sky as the moon bullies its way through the stars.

Trash lines the walls where I’m hidden from view. A giant dumpster with overflowing garbage makes my lip involuntarily curl. The soft fabric of my dark Louis Vuitton shirt slides against my skin, reminding me how out of place I am. I should be feasting like a king with my alligator boots propped on a table.

But dinner is among the rats and cockroaches again.

The thought snaps my arm out to snag her hair. I twist my fingers in the long, onyx locks. She jerks backward, right into my waiting arms, to vanish in the darkness between the buildings with me.

Firmly placing my hand over her mouth, a muffled scream sings to the predator in me. Adrenaline shoots through her system and my ears pick up her erratic pulse. Fangs emerge over my bottom lip, and I hold her steadily against me with an arm wrapped around both her arms and torso.

It’s a perfect fit.

My hand twists in the tangled tresses, yanking her head to one side to reveal the curve of her beautiful, flawless neck. The tip of my nose grazes her face as I inhale the scent of blood pumping through her veins.

A tear drips over my hand covering her mouth. Nails rip at my skin. Elbows and fists swing backward, stinging like mosquito bites. Fear pours off her in waves and I relish in it, listening to each ragged breath playing a symphony with her hammering heart.

Muffled pleas are intelligible between sobs and gasps for air. I exhale over her jawline and watch goosebumps rise along her flesh.

Such delicate creatures. The faintest touch can cause the body to react in the most fascinating ways.

Soft skin meets my bottom lip, and I position my fangs in the perfect spot before they sink into her neck. Violent waves of energy roll through me until I surrender to my demon half. The familiar scars across my face deepen as all my human features shift into a creature of the night.

Rigid in my arms, she stops fighting, her breaths short and choppy. In a split second, her head collides with my nose and I release her to assess the damage more out of habit than it actually hurting.

Human habits are hard to shake, even after a hundred and twenty years.

Screams echo over us and spread throughout the alley. I count two fleeing steps and swirl in front of her with speed that shouldn’t exist in her world, blocking her escape route. She slams right into me and breaks her fall with her hands, scraping them against the ground.

Scrambling around blindly, she screams at the purse tangled around her arm as she fights to move faster. Darkness swells around her, swallowing everything as her eyes try to grasp which direction the next attack will come from.

The scent of fresh blood unravels all the willpower left in me, and I haul her off the ground by her shoulders. Forgetting my strength, I accidentally slam her against the brick wall and knock the wind out of her.

Killing her before I quench my thirst with the thick, red liquid flowing through her body would be barbaric. I haven’t worked this hard for a meal in ages. Dormant hunting instincts I haven’t used in months wake at the feel of her quivering body under my trailing fingers.

Our gazes meet as she gasps for air.

Glowing in her brown eyes are my red ones. She struggles to free herself from my grasp and turns her head, refusing to look at me. The tips of my fangs rub against my skin as the corner of my mouth ticks upward.

Her leg comes up between my mine. Right on target. Hands push me out of the way, but I catch my balance and lean against the brick wall for a few seconds to recover.

An animalistic snarl bursts out of me as I breathe through the discomfort. Getting kicked in the groin is never a pleasant feeling, even as a vampire.

She stumbles over debris littering the alley and swings her purse outward to keep me at bay. The heavy bag pulls her off balance, and she falls again, striving to escape. More Blood. Sliding my tongue over a fang, I inhale the glorious scent.

I can’t even seize her shoulder before she twists to the side and kicks me as hard as she can, imprinting a dirty shoe print on my jeans. Biding my time by brushing it off, I let her believe she might getaway. Hope enters the fray of emotions surrounding her, almost immediately swallowed by a thick layer of terror when I don’t immediately reach for her again.

Near the entrance to the alley, she takes a chance to get on her feet so she can move faster to get help. A scream rips from her lips for only a second.

My hand lands over her mouth. Her fingertips reach for the lights illuminating the sidewalk for all the tourists enjoying the nightlife.

If anyone heard her, they don’t care enough to find out where the sharp scream came from. I’m out of patience. And starving.

I drag her away from the edge of safety and let the shadows eat us alive. Fighting me the whole way, I finally let her go at the same time she shoves against me. Her limbs flail to the ground with a whimper. Breathing too hard to make a noise, she gasps for oxygen, scampering over the pavement until I straddle her. Hoarse screams erupt from her lips and her fists bang against my chest feebly—the fight in her almost gone.

With one hand, I trap her head to the side against the cold concrete, and my teeth graze her neck at the same time I’m thrown off her and skid across the pavement.

A trace of blood tingles on my tongue from the scratch I left on her neck. In a frenzy for more, I’m on my feet in a flash, ready to rip apart anything in my way. Vibrations in my throat come out in a scathing hiss and turns into an enraged growl.

Liquid splashes against me, soaking into my clothes. Fire ignites across my body like I’m being roasted alive. Smoke rises off my skin and I cower like a wounded animal. The odor of melted flesh fills my nostrils and I howl in pain.

Holy water. Hunters.

The demon releases me back to my former self, recoiling in a corner of my body. I retreat further into the alley and sprint in the opposite direction. Something not quite human has joined the party, and I don’t intend to find out what it is. One hunter pursues me, not listening to the warnings from the young lady I invited to breakfast. Her voice is hoarse and terrified—music to my ears.

Whoever’s behind me is full of rage and has no problem sending me back to hell. I exit the alley on the opposite side and try to blend in with the crowds of people. He’s not fooled and races after me. Being the palest one out here probably doesn’t help.

Around the corner, on a street leading to Sunshine Boulevard, there’s a scaffolding contraption set up to give the old building a facelift. I use my momentum to jump and catch a metal bar above me to swing myself onto it. On the landing, I glance down at Gage, the hunter in shining armor, determined to catch me.

The Ruger boys are in town.

Casually leaning on a pole, I watch him catch his breath as we make eye contact.

A gun is pointed at me.

“Welcome home,” I say with feigned pleasure.

“It’s rare when a vampire recognizes me. All the ones I meet end up dead.” His menacing dark brown eyes bounce between the scaffolding and me, searching for a way up.

“Your daddy is an old friend of mine.” The right side of my mouth lifts in a half-smile as he frowns. The Rugers have a notorious reputation for sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Celebrities of the supernatural world.

“Then you know he’s dead,” Gage answers in a cold tone.

“By your two hands, oh yes, I know the story.” There’s no reason to stay and chat. I slowly pace myself up the next ladder without making a sound.

Gage curses and climbs up after me. On the rooftop, I wait until he’s midway up the contraption before I place my hands strategically and start to push it away from the building.

The metal screams and bends under pressure. Gage peers up and I beam my friendliest smile at him. Spanish curse words reach me as he looks for something solid he can grab connected to the building. The reach is too far.

He descends. I hope the metal bars break his fall—right through his gut. The whole structure shudders and I give it a good kick once my arms can’t reach it anymore.

“I heard going down is always so much easier than coming up.” I’m so ecstatic with our little game, my fangs peek out over my bottom lip as Gage rushes down to the ground.

He doesn’t reach the bottom. Metal and wood crash against the concrete in thunderous applause for my quick thinking. Dust and smoke whoosh up from the destruction, and I don’t stick around to make sure Gage is trapped underneath it.

It’s time for breakfast.

***

Her scent lingers on me, and I take a chance to return to the alley where the Ruger boys so rudely interrupted my meal. From above, I watch Rowan try to convince the girl he won’t hurt her. A true knight in shining armor.

After being attacked, she recoils from his offered hand, and I dare to hope he’ll leave her alone—so we can finish what we started. After all, I had her first. She’s mine.

Since she’s not making a scene, he gives her a warm, roguish grin. The upward turn of his lips makes most ladies swoon. She stays distant instead of falling into his arms like a damsel in distress.

At least I know I left a lasting effect on her.

The entire Ruger family is a thorn in Hell’s side. Fighting to keep supernatural order, they hunt the demons and paranormal creatures who prey on the innocent. But they aren’t only known for their killing-all-things-evil spirit. They’re also easy on the eyes. Handsome heroes to the rescue make the experience less traumatizing. Until one of them leaves you heartbroken because of their commitment issues.

I easily eavesdrop on the conversation. Both heartbeats are erratic, and attraction is easing over the hurdle of fear rippling off the woman. Rowan changes his demeanor from saving-a-citizen to boy-with-crush once he gets a good look at her. A low growl rumbles inside of me, and I’m disgusted I brought both of them together.

“This next question is going to be weird, but it’s important you answer it,” Rowan says nervously. “Did he bite you?”

An imperceptible shake of her head.

The memory of her neck makes my fangs slip out and the tips tingle in anticipation. Footsteps echo in the alley and my curiosity is not piqued. I can smell the abomination from up here. Oh, how I’ve forgotten what disappointment feels like.

My nemesis survived my trap. Gage joins them and tries to hide a prominent limp. A hurt hunter is better than nothing. Especially if he’s stronger than a human. The boy is half incubus. His mother fell for a demon like most humans do when they’re out on the prowl.

Gage lifts the hidden gun out of its holster and aims at the girl with only Rowan between them. New sobs rack her body.

Without sympathy, Gage asks, “Did he bite her?”

What a waste of a perfectly good breakfast.

Rowan pushes the gun down and sighs. “No, put that away.” He kneels in front of her but keeps his hands to himself. “Do you live around here? Is there somewhere we can take you?”

She shakes her head, trembling against the brick wall. “Are you undercover cops? Is there some kind of zombie apocalypse I don’t know about?” When they look at each other, silently communicating, she adds skeptically, “Serial cannibal?” A mix of nerves, adrenaline, and fear still permeates the area.

After he holsters his gun, Gage holds out his hand, taking none of Rowan’s cues that they should give her some space. He says with way too much confidence, “He’s gone. And considering I saved your life, I’d be really pissed if I saw you missing in the newspapers because you refused to let me help you. Now, whatever you need to get up and start moving, I’ll do just for you.” A flirtatious smile crosses his face. The one women can’t resist, distracting her from the questions she asked. His head tilts slightly, taking in what he missed earlier.

“Do you know who he is?” she asks vehemently.

“No. But he can’t hurt you anymore,” Rowan guarantees softly and gestures to the sidewalk. “After you.”

Oh, I can’t, can I? The statement ignites the challenge of finishing what I started—with my fangs sinking into her neck.

“You caught him? Can I give him a swift kick in the balls?” she inquires in a scathing tone. She uses the wall to help her stand and wipes the tears from her face. One step at a time, she moves out of the alley onto the public sidewalk.

Both boys have an uneasy expression cross their faces, like they can feel her threat themselves. They keep their distance but take a position on either side of her. Behind her, Gage playfully punches Rowan, encouraging him to make conversation with her. An attempt to ease her fear so they can find out where they’re going without spooking her.

Rowan sneaks a peek at her, far more interested in the damsel than he pretends to be. Vampires only need a whiff to figure out a person’s true feelings. He can’t fool me, even if he’s trying to fool himself.

I follow from above, walking parallel to them along the edge of the roof. Even from up here, I can smell the distress wafting off her, calling to me. She’s holding onto her purse like it’s a lifeline and her body curls in protectively. Even with two men by her side, her eyes bounce around, searching for danger.

A bruise I left on her wrist catches my eye when she rubs it, and I almost fall off the roof before I catch myself. Leaping to the next building, I decide to join them on the sidewalk at the next alley.

Out of everyone they pass, only one person seems concerned over the eyeliner smeared across her face and red-rimmed eyes.

“We never got your name,” Gage says, struggling with small talk. “I’m Gage, and that’s my brother, Rowan.”

Gage nudges his brother to talk to her, but he shakes his head.

“Amelia,” she mutters half-heartedly and stares at the broken skin on the palms of her hands.

Gage notices the blood. “We can get you cleaned up.” He looks at Rowan. “There’s a first aid kit in the Bronco, right?”

“No offense, but I’m not going anywhere with two guys I just met,” Amelia objects without conviction.

“You can go wherever you want. Just pretend we’re not here,” Rowan says, trying to soothe the situation.

“So you want me to pretend like two strangers aren’t following me around?” she questions.

“Exactly.” Rowan grins.

“Like a stalker?”

Her inquiry wipes the grin off Rowan’s face, and Gage cracks up laughing.

“We just want to make sure you get home safely,” Rowan explains.

“Two strange men want to find out where I live after I was just attacked in an alley where one of them pulled a gun on me and the other asked if the cannibal tried to eat me.” Amelia raises a questioning eyebrow with a do-you-see-the-problem expression.

“She’s got a point.” The grin spread across Gage’s face can melt the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. “And I apologize for the-uh incident from earlier. Safety precaution. Comes with the job.”

“So you’re cops?” she asks.

“If I said yes, would that make you feel better?” Rowan queries.

“I would feel better if I could kick someone in the balls. Maybe shove my thumb in an eye socket too,” she admits.

Such violence. We will get along perfectly.

“Every time she says it, my nuts—.” Rowan hits Gage in the shoulder, silently mouthing shut up.

She stops abruptly. I turn my back to them and pretend to be interested in the carousel of postcards in front of a shop.

“You’re good to work?” Gage asks with concern.

They’ve stopped in front of a restaurant. Hiding behind the carousel, I notice the Stake N’ Bake polo shirt she’s wearing.

“I don’t have a choice. It’s Friday and I depend on my tips,” her voice is slightly trembling. Surveying the Boulevard under the lamplight, she wraps her arms around herself, looking for danger.

She’s a survivor. More aware of her surroundings.

The brothers recognize the anxious expression on her face. They’ve seen it thousands of times on plenty of victims the supernatural world preys on.

“Rowan can come by when you’re off to walk you home.” Gage offers his brother’s services without asking him. Rowan snaps his wide eyes to his brother and then Amelia. Her gaze is averted, but she doesn’t decline the offer.

The dissipating fear rises the longer the silence grows between them. Her anxiety increases and falls like she’s contemplating the offer, unsure if she should take it.

Rowan doesn’t wait for her to agree to the arrangement. “When do you get off?”

“One in the morning,” she murmurs and expects him to blow her off because of the late hour.

Good to know.

“I’ll come by at 12:30. Where’s your phone?” Rowan asks and takes the phone from her. He programs his number in it. “Call me if you get off early.” The dimple in his left cheek deepens and I frown at her growing excitement.

She hesitates, and I hope she’s polite enough to reject the offer. Inconveniencing others is something humans think about. Or a handout. Kindness almost always gets rejected.

“I’ll see you later?” She nods awkwardly and gives them a wave through the glass doors when she peers over her shoulder and finds them still standing there.

Gage grins and messes up Rowan’s hair in a teasing manner. “Who’s the best wingman in the world? I love it when a pretty girl needs a rescue.”

“This doesn’t mean she’s interested in me.” Rowan scowls and tries to salvage his styled, dark brown hair.

“Of course she’s interested, she gave you her phone.”

“Only because you said I’d do it! And then she didn’t have a choice.”

“Girls always have a choice. You’re just used to hearing the word no.” Gage chuckles, throwing his arm around his little brother.

They stroll down the street and get lost in a hoard of people. I meander up to the Steak N’ Bake glass doors and inhale. Her scent is still strong and my throat burns for a drink of the sample I had earlier.

She’s off-limits. But should she lose interest in the hunter…she could disappear without notice. The thought of stealing her away from Rowan gives me something to look forward to. My amused smirk changes to concern when I enter the restaurant.

“Welcome to Steak N’ Bake. How many?” The hostess greets me with a dazzling smile. Her eyes carefully assess me and lust emanates from her. An empty saddle surrounded by hay to my right is set up as a photo prop for parents with kids.

“Maybe you can help me. Someone dropped their keys outside, and I’m positive I saw her come in here.” I hold up my keys. The lie easily slips right off my tongue. “Where would she be?

“Oh-um.” The hostess looks around. “She’s probably in the back. Her shift started. I can’t leave my post, but you can leave them with me, and I’ll give them to her.”

Instead of declining her offer, I change the subject. “How’s the food here?”

“Pretty good if you like steak and potatoes.”

“Should I give it a shot since I’m already here?”

“It never hurts to try something new.”

“Lead the way.”

She grabs a menu and takes off to the right, toward the tables. “Or you can sit at the bar.”

Faux fence siding is plastered against the wall with murals of the countryside above it to make patrons feel like their dining on a homestead. The area she puts me in has Longhorn skulls, elaborate belt buckles, and antique farm tools. The mural depicts a rodeo with a cowboy riding a bucking bull.

“The table in the corner is fine. Don’t forget to tell your friend about her keys.” I remind her. She places the menu on the table and turns to leave, but I’m right in front of her, reading her nametag. I lean forward to make the conversation intimate. “When do you get off tonight?”

Blushing, Roderica leans against the table shyly. “Eleven, unless we get a huge rush, then I usually help close up.”

“Maybe I should stick around.” My eyes trace her collarbone.

She cocks her head seductively. “Maybe you should.”

I take my seat and watch her saunter off to the entrance, swishing her hips. Two minutes later, a waiter tries to take my order and I explain to him I’m waiting for a certain waitress. He agrees to send her over after I give him a description.

Amelia wanders around, taking orders for a while, probably hoping I’ll give the keys to the hostess and leave. The male waiter checks on me again, and when I say she hasn’t been by yet, there’s a grimace he tries to hide with a tight smile.

I see her coming and hide behind the menu. My fangs slip out and contract when her scent reaches me. I ignore her presence until she finally says, “Excuse me.”

Pretending to be startled, I peer over the menu and grin sheepishly. Holding up my keys, I exclaim, “You might need these later.”

“I hate to be the one to tell you, but those aren’t mine,” she claims politely and clasps her hands. Each finger has a ring on it. She removed all the make-up from her face and appears younger. Her brown eyes are still red from crying, but she’s pretending to be brave. Anxiety is leaping off her.

Her sixth sense to recognize danger is subpar. The demon within me wants to remind her we’ve already met—the pretty face she’s observing hid in the shadows her human eyes cannot penetrate.

Disappointment surges underneath my puzzled expression. A defeated sigh emerges. “So I followed the wrong person and now someone out there is stranded.”

She places a hand on my shoulder and then looks at it like someone else is controlling her movements. But she doesn’t remove it. “It’s the thought that counts?” she says, trying to console me.

Don’t fight it. Let it happen. Vampires naturally attract humans. But the allure allows us to pull them into dark corners where they usually will not go with strangers. Its power wraps invisible tendrils around her, making her succumb to my every need. I just have to keep her close a little longer.

Sliding my fingers across my forehead to appear frazzled, I lean forward in mock disbelief. “I guess I should go see if anyone is out there searching for keys.”

“Or you could eat,” she suggests, removing her hand from my shoulder and grabbing a notepad to take my order. There’s a glimmer of desire in her eyes. Women always love the hero. “I doubt you’ll find them now. They might not even know their keys are missing.”

“I feel awful.”

“When I feel bad, the dessert menu makes up for it.”

A small, pitiful grin makes an appearance. “Nothing says winner like a man eating desert by himself,” I mutter sarcastically for only her to hear.

“Trust me, anyone here would be glad to join you. Even the married customers,” she blurts out before she can stop herself.

The lure vampires hold over humans is twisting her thoughts to benefit. Soon she won’t remember Rowan’s name and I’ll be free to finish what I started.

I give her my best nervous chuckle. “You are very kind, even though I don’t think that’s remotely true.”

“What’ll it be? I’m not letting you leave on an empty stomach feeling sorry for yourself.” She gives me a sweet smile and steps closer to gaze at the dessert menu with me. Desperation to keep me here is eating away at her uneasiness.

When I don’t pick one after a few minutes, she points at the monster brownie option and brushes her arm against me. My stomach churns at the thought of sticking it in my mouth, so I focus on her wrist instead. “That looks good. Bring me that—uh—eh—,” I pretend to search for her nametag, “Amelia.”

“Excellent choice—what should I call you besides the handsome, mysterious stranger in the corner?”

“You can always call me the handsome, mysterious stranger in the corner.” My mouth tips up in a devilish grin. “But for future reference, you can call Gabriel.”

She breaks eye contact first, turning around with a nervous giggle. By the end of the night, she’ll beg me to take her home. I stretch out my legs and let the allure do all the work. It takes five minutes for a hand to slide over my shoulder, but it’s not who I expect.

Roderica settles in front of me at the table with a sensual quirk of her lips. Her mind is more malleable than Amelia’s, and she’s willing to fight for my attention. Every slight movement she makes draws my eyes to her chest.

Lazily leaning over the table, my gaze travels along her neck until I meet her eyes. I’m very interested in keeping her with me. But not for the blood in her veins.

Tension slowly wedges itself into every bone in my body. I glance back at the entrance where she should be. It came from the front. My gaze flickers to all the dark corners where shadows are ignored because safety lies inside the building.

Protection only lies within the light.

If I’m going to abandon my plan, I want to be absolutely sure the shadows have come out to play.

Inhaling deeply, I try to catch another whiff of the lingering scent. A smell that doesn’t belong to her.

An odor that belongs to something far worse than a hunter.



There’s a joke in K.E. Radke's house that all she does is literally sit on her a** all day...which is true because she write books for a living. She might start asking for standing ovations from her children when she stands up! In the meantime, you can check out her latest release The Dawn of Darkness now or subscribe to newsletter!




Connect with K. E. Radke on Social:



 

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you or the author!

Comentários


Copyright © 2019 Jessa Lucas

All rights reserved. This work or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

bottom of page