Death before dawn, p.1
Death Before Dawn, page 1
Table of Contents
Death Before Dawn
Also by Amelia Hutchins
About the Author
Death Before Dawn
A Guardian’s Diary Series Part II
Written by Amelia Hutchins
Death Before Dawn
A Guardian’s Diary Series Part II
Copyright © February 21, 2017 by Amelia Hutchins
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This book both in its entirety and in portions is the sole property of
Death before Dawn© 2017 by Amelia Hutchins.
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical without the express written permission of the author. The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.
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Cover Art Design: Vera DC Digital Art & Photography
Cover Art Illustrations: Vera DC Digital Art & Photography
Copyright © February 2017 Amelia Hutchins
Edited and Formatting: E & F Indie Services
Copy Editor: Gina Tobin
Published by: Amelia Hutchins
Published in (United States of America)
This book is not suitable for anyone under the age of eighteen. This book is intended for those who enjoy dark humor, and a wild ride. There is adult language and scene’s that may leave you tying up your partner and making him or her, very happy. This book is a series, but has a happy for now ending. There are no zombies in this book, but should my imagination place a few in the next book, do not worry, I will kill them off shortly. Not intended for anyone who doesn’t enjoy being taken for plot turning, panty soaking, and edge of your seat wild ride.
My eyes took in the savagery of the killings. Someone had enjoyed it; they’d tied up the men, women, and children and took their time torturing and mutilating them. It was disgusting; knowing that these people had survived the Rh Viridae virus and still ended up this way shook my confidence.
“And you say we’re animals,” Jaeden said, his face a mask of disgust as he took in the small remains that hadn’t been spared. “Someone slaughtered these people for fun.”
I reached down and picked up a small, tattered, brown bear that was missing an arm, the fluff escaping from the opening. Grayson was out here with our psychotic mother, being exposed to monsters like this. I placed the bear next to the little girl, who had died curled up beside her mother’s corpse. She had a gaping head wound, probably from a violent blow to the head. It looked as if the little girl had tried to run to her mother, and had been beaten viciously for it.
People no longer died from the virus; now they died from others who had survived the sickness. Deaths caused by the sick, twisted, lawless world that the virus had left us with.
“Emma, lass,” Lachlan chided when I wiped at the tears that filled my eyes as I wondered how my brother was doing. It was an endless loop of worries running through my mind that I couldn’t stop. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t.
“I’m okay,” I mumbled, and turned to give him a small smile, which was the biggest one I could manage. I’d seen a lot of shit in the trek down south, but this? This was once a town that somehow was filled with people who had banded together and had obviously managed to work collectively to survive. This new world was harsh, and seemed to have no regard for human life.
“Nae, ye are nae okay,” he argued in his soft Scottish burr.
“Lachlan, this sucks. Finding an entire town of survivors, super cool. Finding that they’d been killed just a few hours before we arrived? Not cool at all,” I growled as I felt the sense of someone watching me again. I’d felt that sensation a lot lately; as if someone was following my progress as I made my way south. I hadn’t mentioned it to the others, only because they hadn’t seemed to sense it, and if I couldn’t find the source of the sensations, it was doubtful that they could. “I want their fucking heads,” I snapped harshly. “And I want their hearts, just to show them they should have used them here.”
“That’s my girl,” Jaeden announced as we stood among the carnage.
“Not your girl,” I grumbled. I hadn’t been, not for a while now. I’d been watching him feed from the women that Shamus had brought with him, camp followers as Jaeden called them. They were much-needed walking blood-bags that gave him goo-goo eyes all day long. I’d heard him with one, and that one had been enough.
A few days after we had passed through Boise, Idaho, Shamus and his portable buffet joined up with us. He was supposed to have dropped Astrid off with the elders; instead, she was here and seemed to be leading the women and giving me her best bitch-face whenever Shamus or Jaeden weren’t looking.
Along with their arrival, came Shamus’s warning: The elders had forbidden Jaeden or any of the other vampires from feeding from me. They’d decided that since none of them knew much about my kind, and no one knew if feeding from me could hurt or affect the vampires in some sort of voodoo way, that it was best not to do it.
We’d been traveling for almos
I may not be human any longer, but the instincts my father had instilled were still inside of me. I still carried my bug-out pack, still wore a mask when I went into the woods alone; it was a part of how I survived. With the group, I allowed myself to let my guard down, knowing they’d protect me, but I stuck to my instincts when I went out alone. There was also the fact that I was being watched, and followed. I’d begun to suspect it was a lone Sentinel following me, since no one else seemed to be aware of it. Had it been human, the others would have already been aware of his presence. There weren’t many beings that could get close to me without bringing the attention of the vampires and wolves to their presence.
There was also the fact that I could feel him, as if we were connected. I knew when he got too close, because my heart went into overdrive, and my senses went up, heightened, as if his powers helped mine somehow.
I needed to figure out how to actually use the powers that I kept triggering accidentally; to be able to use them when I needed them. I was willing to bet the Sentinel trailing me knew exactly how to trigger his powers, and I needed to figure out why he was stalking me.
“I’m going to look for herbs,” I stated, my heart already beginning to accelerate. Jaeden had assumed it was just another one of my ‘panic attacks’, as he dubbed my escalation of fight-or-flight instinct when the Sentinel was near, but he kept his secrets, and I had mine.
“Lass, ye dinna need tae,” Lachlan said, but I ignored him as I equipped my pack, checked the bow, and made sure I had enough ammo. I’d brought guns with me, and heavy ammo that had slowed us down—or them, rather. I thought I was doing pretty damn well until Shamus pointed out how slow I was moving.
“I’ll be fine. I need mint and ginseng, and as far as I can tell, no one else is gathering new things,” I pointed out as he examined cans of food.
Jaeden handed him a can of dog food. “Dog chow, or do you prefer kibble?” he offered with a smile, and I frowned. They’d gotten a lot closer again, cracking jokes, and even though it was a nice change from the name calling, it still got on my nerves.
“Nae, but if ye have a bit o’ wolves bane, ye be telling me, aye mon?” he laughed, and his men followed suit.
They were laughing. In the midst of a town full of innocent victims, they were laughing. It was one of the things that got to me; their off-the-wall comments. As if the world hadn’t gone to hell in a handbasket. I ignored their curious looks as I walked into the woods, knowing they’d still be pillaging the town when I came back.
Once I was alone, I slipped the mask on and looked towards where I felt the Sentinel. He knew I looked for him, and yet he never let me get close enough to catch a glimpse of him. I could smell him; his masculine scent lingered, giving away that he’d once filled the space in this general area. It wasn’t cologne or aftershave, just the earthy scent of a man who cared enough about hygiene to bathe, which was rare these days.
I unclicked the chest buckle from my pack, making it easier to breathe as I entered the heavily wooded area. I walked blindly, not bothering to look for herbs until I was a good mile or so into the woods. Once I had put enough distance between myself and the others, I pulled off my pack, as well as the mask, and dropped to my knees in the middle of a small clearing.
I sobbed for a few moments, hating the weakness, but unable to stop it as the faces of the slaughtered fluttered through my mind. Babies. They’d killed helpless babies! Small children, innocent lives had been lost. It seemed surreal. Like some nightmare I couldn’t wake up from, but it wasn’t. It had happened. It was real. Grayson was out there with fucking monsters disguised as humans. My mother wouldn’t protect him if she thought him useless; she’d let him loose in the world with those vile creatures.
I wiped at my eyes, collecting my thoughts and my mind before I got back up to my feet and paused. My heart was beating painfully fast, my stomach felt knotted, and I was trembling. The Sentinel was inches from me; even now I could smell his earthy scent. It was stronger than I’d ever sensed before. Male.
I’d been distracted by grief, and he’d used it to sneak up on me. I stood still, unsure of how to handle it. I had a sinking feeling that if I turned around, he’d use that inhuman speed to disappear. I remained still until I felt the heat of his body against my back. I could feel him, as if we were connected somehow. He exuded power. Raw, uncut power that slithered seductively over my exposed flesh. I hadn’t dressed for the woods; my arms were bare, and the tank top I wore was soaked through with sweat from hours of hiking up to the town. Sweat beaded on my brow, and my breathing was labored from the tempo of my heart.
Still, I didn’t move. My instincts were to run, to get as far away from him as possible. To go back to the safety of the group, and yet I remained frozen in place, while my hands and body trembled with fear of the unknown. Had I miscalculated something? Was he here to kill me? Easy enough to do, with how careless I’d been.
I heard the sound of a blade leaving a holster; the soft noise was loud in the clearing as he stepped even closer to me. I felt my palms sweating with the anxiety of my thoughts.
“Do it,” I whispered breathlessly.
Had I expected something? Evil laughter or something like it? Okay, I totally did. I could see his shadow. He was taller than me, and his head tilted at an angle, as if he was trying to see me better. It was a weird thing for a murderer to do, right? I expected the dagger to find a home in my back. I heard him moving away from me and watched his shadow as he found my pack and, if I was right, he’d just put something inside of it. A bomb? With my luck, it would have been. He made his way back to me. His feet made no sound, which explained why I hadn’t heard him while I’d been blabbering like an idiot, crying my eyes out.
Once again, I could feel him next to my back, inches away from me. No sound, still. I wanted to turn around; see who it was that had been following me for the last month, watching me. I didn’t move. I felt his power as he got closer to my body, less than an inch away from me. My body reacted, my skin prickling with the awareness of his proximity.
I winced as I felt the dull edge of his blade as he ran it over the skin at the nape of my neck. Gloved fingers fluttered over my flesh, and relief washed through me. I moaned softly as the tension I’d felt left my body. I felt him tense behind me, his fingers slowly retracing the path they’d just taken. I wanted to spin around, see who the fuck was touching me, but he moved like the other Sentinel had. I’d felt him close before, and the moment I’d turned around, he’d been gone, which was why I hadn’t tried to do it this time around. I felt a slight tug on my hair, listened as a piece of my ponytail was cut, and growled low in my chest. My hair was too long; it hadn’t been cut since before the virus outbreak. It wasn’t blonde, but it wasn’t red either. It was in between, strawberry blonde, with a few occasional sections of burgundy from Cayla, who was obsessed with my hair lately. Burgundy was safer than the other hues of the rainbow she’d wanted to color it.
Minutes passed since I heard the knife return to its sheath, heard him removing his gloves and still, no noise other than the sound of leather sliding over skin. He didn’t speak to me; he simply stood behind me, waiting for something.
At once I was yanked against him. The knife I’d thought he’d put away was dull; the side of it pressed against my carotid artery, and I was flat against his chest. He was dressed in some sort of armor; I could feel it through the skimpy tank top I wore. I should have been panicking, or screaming…something! I
“You’ve been watching me, why?” I asked, my words coming out as a soft whimper.
His other hand slid to my thigh, slowly examining the exact spot where I’d been hurt last week, which was now fully healed. He touched me with a shaking hand, ripped the cargo pants open to reveal the healed flesh. I cried out softly, which seemed to make him pause. His nose touched my hair, inhaling my scent like I was some exotic creature. When his nose brushed against my ear, I inhaled the clean smell of his breath. His nose touched my neck and I trembled against the sensation the connection created. He placed a soft kiss against my neck, touching my quickening pulse with his lips as he lowered the blade, sheathed it, then continued to hold me in place. I’d given him control, and I hadn’t even meant to. I could feel the muscles that his armor should have protected, muscles that no longer had armor over them. I realized he was testing me. He was seeing if I would struggle against him.
“You’re like me, right? That’s why I feel you?” I questioned. I sure as hell hoped I didn’t feel like this every time I encountered a Sentinel. It felt like I was being attacked internally by a pack of wild butterflies. My heart was threatening to break my ribs; to break free from the cage that held it. Worse, his touch was turning me on! I was in need of some serious mental help, or at least an evaluation.
If he felt the same thing, he ignored it. He ignored me, lifting my shirt and brushing his fingers against my midsection. Shit, was he seriously skipping the first few bases and going for a homerun already? His hand touched me softly, like I was the rarest porcelain doll left in existence. As if he was afraid he’d break me. Shit.
“Um, you should at least buy me a drink before you try to steal home base, right?” I squeaked, and throaty masculine laughter hummed against my ear. I expelled the breath I’d been holding, relaxed into his hold, and wondered why I wasn’t losing my shit at being felt up in the middle of a forest by a total stranger.
by Amelia Hutchins / Fantasy / Paranormal / Romance have rating 4.6 out of 5 / Based on41 votes